Rarely does an author get a flawless review but that’s what yours truly got from Amos Lassen, one of the leading national critics of gay erotic fiction, about “For The Love of Samuel”, my latest erotic gay romance of love lost and love found, set in contemporary New York City and Fort Lauderdale. “Samuel” focuses on an aging Manhattan gay man who has a chance to relive his youth, thanks to the prowess of the magical dog tag of Samuel Evans of the title, a long dead Civil War soldier.
Here is Mr. Lassen’s review:
“There have been countless stories about the quest for youth and everlasting life making it difficult to find a new way to approach it and write about it. Here is where Andrew succeeds. He takes the facts that he has learned and converts them into fantasy and he gives us a very sexy story. It seems that there were certain dog tags that contained the life force of their long dead owners and when the tags were transferred to a new owner, the person returned to the age Samuel was when he lost his life.
We meet some very hot men who have some very hot sex but the reader must be ready to read fast because the novel is fast paced. I actually heard, and thoroughly enjoyed the audio version that made it all seem very real (and very sexy). However, it is not only the sex that keeps the story moving. Writer Andrews tells a good story in wonderful prose…
There are a lot of characters and the story changes directions a few times keeping us alert. This is one of those books that will stay with me for quite a while.”
New Yorker and aging gay man Billy Veleber who abhors growing old has lost Mitch, his former meth head lover, to his habit, and Gus, the older man in his life and mentor, to despair, when he is confronted with the chance to become 21 all over again, through the magical prowess of the dog tag of a long dead Civil War soldier, Samuel Evans. Young again, Billy abandons Manhattan for Fort Lauderdale where he meets Dare, the love of his life, whose clever quick rich venture first bonds them, then threatens to end their idyllic lives together forever. Billy also faces the reality of having to tell Dare the truth about himself.
Audiobook version available on Amazon soon. Here’s a sample:
Billy, the aging 51 old gay man, puts on the magic dog tag of the long dead Civil War soldier, Samuel Evans and over one weekend begins his transformation. Already feeling his libido renewed, Billy visits Manhattan’s last remaining leather hole, The New Eagle… the narrator is me …
Starting a new life in sunny Fort Lauderdale, Billy meets Dare, a 42 year disgraced ex New York City cop now working as a security guard at the leatherbar Billy gets a job at as a barback. The chemistry between them is immediate, and that night, Dare takes Billy back to his condo where they make love for the very first time …
Welcome to my world.
Experience the underbelly of contemporary gay life with an author who lives it.
Why I Was Born To Write Erotica
My Books and What The Critics Think
Inside The Mind of a Writer:: My Saga Making it As A Writer
I write erotic gay fiction, mostly romance, for two damn good reasons. I’m a good writer, always have been; and I’ve had hundreds of sexual experiences to
write about, and at age seventy have a more active sex life than a thirty year old Manhattan bachelor, which is unabashedly retold in my books.
First on my writing skills: I skipped the usual college writing course after I submitted an essay to show I didn’t need it, but ironically got a “C” in the creative writing class l took instead. Maybe the prof had the hots for me, – ya think? – and when l showed no interest …
I made my living in the public relations and marketing game where writing good and writing fast were prerequisites for success; and when I retired fifteen years ago from crazy and cold New York City to hot and crazier Fort Lauderdale, I began writing fiction in earnest. Becoming a blogger which I began in 2010 and continue today, focusing on contemporary gay life, in “Confessions of A Straight Gay Man,” sharpened by thinking and writing skills even more to the point that, when I sit down with my tablet, the piece comes out almost done with little need for revision. The same is true with my fiction writing. After percolating in my head for almost two years, I wrote the fifty thousand three hundred word novel, “Samuel” in just two months.
Now they say write about what you know, so what did I know better than living life as a gay man, discreet when I lived and worked in NYC, and hell bent and fancy free as a retiree – is that an oxymoron? – here in sunny Lauderdale. In my sixties I became a paid male escort for a month – for my art of course – and was fascinated by the four guys that month – and no train wrecks – who put two hundred dollars down on the bureau to have my hirsute still in shape body; and like some star being discovered greasing cars, my escort web ad was seen by a porn producer in San Francisco who was coming to Lauderdale to shoot some fresh talent and persuaded exhibitionist me to do a solo. Two hundred sixty five dollars for pleasuring myself in front of a camera. To this day, five or six years later, I have out of towners come up to me in the bar and tell me how much they enjoyed my fifteen minutes of fame. “Hot” is their one word description. You know how millennials talk in monosyllables today.
And at an age when most gay men are content with a little porn or some action in the shadows at a bathhouse, I am reveling in my new second gay career as a daddy. No, not a sugar daddy who supports some young boy, but a confident, self-assured and still sexually alluring older man younger men want to bed down with. Should I complain? Two of my current loves with bodies by Michelangelo are 42 and 36, respectively, old enough to be my sons, and a third, equally handsome at 56, could be my younger brother. They and the constant flood of men who proposition me on the web – gees, do you think the Russians put something in the water? – keep me pretty damn busy and provide plenty of sexual experiences to write about. I’m no Nebraska housewife imagining two men in bed – with my stuff, you get the real deal. I’ll probably be the only senior citizen to have “cause of death: sexual exhaustion” on his death certificate.
When people ask me to what do I attribute looking twenty years younger than my chronological age, I reply blithely, “Lots of booze, lots of drugs, and lots of sex,” with an emphasis on the last two, as you will see if you take a gander at any of my books.
But hey, only bad boys know how to write great erotic gay romance.
So come and be bad with me.
You know you wanna.
My Books and What The Critics Think
A tale of redemption, available on Available on amazon.com and barnesand noble.com
Buy Guys is the story of Blaze and Pete, two young, handsome drifters with nothing and nothing to lose. Blaze convinces Pete, who is falling in love with him, to leave dreary New Jersey and lead free and easy lives as male prostitutes in sunny Fort Lauderdale, posting their profile on the male escort site, Buy Guys. Blaze, however, soon pulls Pete into a much larger, more dangerous scheme, a scheme that eventually threatens to destroy them both.
“Well written … I naturally assumed by the title that the story would be about two guys in the sex trade but I had no idea that this would also become a kind of mystery… the sex scenes are quite graphic … (and) Blaze and Pete use sex as a way to bolster their finances and get out of debt. More importantly, they try to deal with their pasts and it is with this theme that they find themselves involved in kidnapping, murder and drug use … RP Andrews gives us two characters that represent what can happen when the wrong choices are made and he does so in a way that they hold a fascination for us.”
Amos Lassen Reviews
The Czar of Wilton Drive
Jonathan Antonucci, a 21 year old, barely-out-the-closet gay man from suburban New York, overnight finds himself a multi-millionaire, thanks to a bequest by his late gay great uncle. Uncle Charlie has unexpectedly died of a heart attack, leaving him the sole owner of several of the most successful bars in Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale’s gay ghetto.
Flying down to Lauderdale to claim his bequest, Jon encounters Uncle Charlie’s dubious friends and business associates, and is immediately submerged in the underbelly of Lauderdale’s gay scene. He also discovers his great uncle’s memoirs which reveal truths not only about Jon’s own past but also what may have really happened to his uncle.
“This is one of those reads that just takes you along and dominates you as you read and you do not have to think about anything but getting lost in the story.”
Amos Lassen Reviews
Not In It For The Love
A novella of unconventional love, betrayal and redemption set in the New York City of 9/11. Available on amazon.com.
Set at the turn of the new millennium. this is the story of Josh, a young street-smart Florida drifter is snatched from his dead-end existence as a male hustler in a cheap Key Largo motel by Bishop, a Wall Street power broker who sets him up as his trophy boy in Manhattan society.
There, Josh, after leading a promiscuous lifestyle within New York City’s gay sub-culture, meets Hylan, a young, bi-racial, down-on-his luck, wheelchair-bound musician who awakens in Josh what love can be between two men. But their chance at happiness and the lives of those around them are forever changed by 9/11.
“A brilliant story you can’t help but inhale whole non-stop till you reach the end … this is not your everyday romance, this is not your everyday fiction either. This story is like taking a peek out there in the lives of real people in the real world.”
MM Good Book Reviews
“Appealing,” … “(a) taut, richly detailed … unapologetic … gritty realistic tale… a character-driven plot that moves smoothly and easily from first page to last.”
Mrs. Condit and Friends
A collection of edgy short stories set in some of America’s leading gay venues like New York, San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale, with characters – gay men and women- whose arrogant, aggressive natures lead them down life paths they wish they had never explored. Available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.
“Andrews’ stories are sensuous and disturbingly human. His genius rests in his rare ability to weave deplorable criminal acts such as murder and child abuse into an erotic patchwork, and render the balance tragic poetry … a truly unique and darkly gifted writer.”
Fredryk Traynor, author
“Sweet is an author who uses irony to create literary image with the deft skill of a cloisonné artist. Civilization, truth, history and love are examined under the diamond brightness of an Indian sun.”
Confessions of a Str8 Gay Man: Second Edition
The collection of my no-holds-barred, unvarnished, introspective social commentary on gay life in today’s America from my daily blog, str8gayconfessions.com. Available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.
I also offer my own critical reviews of some of America’s so-called gay hot spots, including my own home base of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which is frequented by more than a million gay travelers annually.
Written from my perspective as a “str8 gay” man, a member of the great silent gay majority who do not espouse the fluff of gay sub-culture or all its political correctness but instead lead quiet, ordinary lives,
Confessions covers such diverse subjects as:
• The Gay Psyche
• Man Makeovers
• Playing the Web
• Gay Culture
• The Hirsute Man
• Friends and Family
• Relationships & Erotic Adventures
• Gays and God
“Confessions takes a deeper behind the scenes look at the gay community, but with the standard rose-colored glasses removed … for every opinion I did not agree with, there were many more that I felt were ‘right on’ and only wish were more openly discussed on a regular basis by the gay community.”
Furry Man’s Journal
My memoirs as a hirsute gay men as told through my erotic experiences with the dozen or so iconic hairy men I knew – and loved. In it, My story parallels the evolution of Modern Gay Life in America from the birth of Gay Liberation, through the AIDS crisis, to today’s techno-crazed age. Available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com
All Bear Magazine
Inside The Mind of a Writer
Here’s the blow-by-blow saga of me making it as a writer…
I’ve always been a good writer. Got mostly A’s on my papers in high school and that allowed me later in college where I was an English major to skip most of the basic essay writing courses freshmen are obliged to take. Yet ironically, when I took the creative writing class, I got a C+! Maybe the prof had the hots for me and was frustrated – who knows?
Later, when I went for my graduate degree at the University of Southern California in L.A., more to get away from my controlling folks than for its wild gay scene, I enrolled in its school of drama. Maybe because part of me, at 5’6, fantasized about being the next Dustin Hoffman, and part because I was interested in script writing, plays (Tennessee Williams was my favorite playwright), maybe even film.
As a kid, I thought movie stars never grew old, and even today I believe “film,” – in all its variations – is the closest thing we humans have to immortality. (Think about it: our collective fascination with old Hollywood lauded and energized by media outlets like TCM is based largely on people who are long dead.)
I did well in my playwriting course –seems I have a natural talent for dialogue – even had one of my one act plays mounted as a class production. But I realized quickly that writing for actors is a collaborative effort involving many people. And I’m a solo kind of a guy which is why writing fiction was the creative niche I was drawn to.
I wanted to stay in L.A., clinging to the hope I might somehow make it in the movie business, but my rude awakening came when I took the bus to Culver City, home of the fabled MGM, to apply for a “title” writer’s job at the studio. This was 1970 – Culver City was a ghetto, MGM’s glory days had long gone, and its property, like most of the mecca studios, was being sold off. So instead of being interviewed in a spacious Louis B Mayor kind of office, the HR guy met me in a small shack just inside the security gates.
He pondered my resume – remember, I had no experience since I just finished my master’s degree – and reacted positively to what he saw, then pointed to two bulging mailbags behind him. “You look good, but I’ve got a lot more applications to go through before I decide.”
That – and a 6.6 earthquake a few weeks later –put an end to my Hollywood fantasy.
Two months later I was back home living with my folks in suburban North Jersey, and working at my very first professional job as an assistant to the editorial supervisor in the public relations department at Blue Cross of New York on Lexington and 26th. (This was before Blue Cross and Blue Shield emerged.)
In the era before Monster.com and Career Builders, the only way to find a professional position if you didn’t go into teaching was to religiously comb the want ads in Sunday’s New York Times, and hit the pavement and check out the employment agencies in Manhattan. When the rep mentioned the job at Blue Cross in its public relations department, I slyly thought, “What’s public relations? Group sex?”
But, I’m a quick learner and Betty, my boss, taught me everything I needed to know to make PR my life’s career. Reflecting back, the office was a version of “Mad Men,” with Betty the only professional woman on staff, surrounded by chain-smoking, womanizing, liquored-lunch males.
That job was a stepping stone to the assistant to the community relations director at a hospital on Staten Island, the forgotten borough of NYC, where I moved to cut my commute to twenty minutes by car. Unlike many people who go through three or four employers in their work years, I pretty much stayed put, and moved up the ladder to eventually become the marketing and communications VP for had evolved into a multi-facility healthcare network.
The one problem was, after working a hectic sixty hour work week where I was on the computer writing reports, media releases, advertising copy, you name it, fifty percent of the time, the last thing I wanted to do was write in my precious spare time. Not a cop-out – a reality.
That would have to wait until decades later when I semi-retired to sunny, sexy Fort Lauderdale, which not only gave me the time to write but also a hell of a lot of experiences to write about.
My Baptism of Fire in the Writing Game
In 2002, having put my pennies away while I was making the “big” money in New York, I decided to leave The Big Apple and my corporate job, and semi-retired to sunny Fort Lauderdale where I had snowbirded for over a decade and already owned property. I was fortunate to line up a teaching job at a small private boy’s school; then, a year later, I gravitated to adjunct professorships at two local universities where I taught college writing. Compared to my staggering workload back in New York, teaching was a cake walk. Hell, I had all my lesson plans on Power Point, which meant I could walk in drunk and still teach the class.
But now I had run out of excuses on why I couldn’t write for the pleasure of it. And, with the advent of the personal computer and Microsoft Word ( I remember the days in my early career when my office floor was littered with “drafts” off an IBM Selectric typewriter), writing, at least technically, had become easily than ever. Yea, it was “shit or get off the pot” time. Either become a writer or stop wet dreaming about it.
As they say, writers, particularly beginning writers, should write about what they know, and over the next year I labored over a semi-autobio novel about my two opposing worlds back in New York – the one of a corporate executive working for a Catholic healthcare system, juxtaposed against my life as a leather/levi gay man, cruising the underbelly of the City’s West Village on weekends.
I came up with my pen name, RP Andrews, by scrambling my initials, RP, for my first and last name, and Andrews, a play on my middle name.
But in this BTW era – Before The Web – the only way one could navigate the world of publishing was to secure a literary agent, in my case, one who handled gay manuscripts, which narrowed the field of possibilities. So, I trotted over to Barnes and Noble, bought a guide to literary agents, canvassed which were gay-friendly, and started hustling my book which, depending on their specs, meant sending them (often by snail mail) anywhere from a synopsis to some sample chapters to the full manuscript. To protect myself, I took the poor man’s copyrighting approach and mailed the manuscript to myself so I had some evidence from the postmark when I had created it.
Well, the response I got from the twenty or so agents I narrowed my search down to was underwhelming.
Now, it’s one thing if somebody tells you your stuff sucks; it’s another if they never even looked at it, and in my case it was the latter. Their responses, whether terse or verbose, all came down to something like: “We get so many unsolicited manuscripts we can’t possibly look at them all, and yours is one of them. Sorry.” Some came as form letters, some as humiliating postcards with my name spelled wrong.
Okay, I guess my stuff wasn’t any good, but were all these literary agents relying on their established stable of writers who, sooner or later, would stop producing product? Were all their new prospects recommended by peers in the business which is what happened to Margret Mitchell, a former journalist, and her originally voluminous manuscript of “Gone with The Wind” done on one of those small portable typewriters? Originally begun as a project while her leg, injured from a horse riding accident healed, “GWTW,” using tales told to her by a Confederate relatives, was never intended to be seen by another human being. That is, until a friend of a friend at MacMillan came over for a visit and asked to see her creation. BTW, the original name for her protagonist was Patsy.
Publishing folklore says J.K. Rowling’s manuscript of “Harry Potter” was rejected numerous times until the secretary – secretary – of an editor pressed her boss to take a second look. And Nicholas Sparks’ “The Notebook” only saw the light of day when an agent just happened to grab the manuscript from a pile out of boredom.
So if agents – and publishers – who were willing to accept unsolicited manuscripts didn’t look at most of them, how were they ever going to discover the next Hemingway or Steinbeck? To say it was demoralizing would be like comparing the explosion that obliterated the Hindenburg to deflating a balloon.
Meanwhile, I was having a gay old time in sex drenched Lauderdale, and with it came a whole new set of experiences, perfect for molding into prose. So, the next time around, I took a different approach and two years later in 2008, with, “Basic Butch,” my anthology of edgy short stories, a done deal, I canvassed gay publishers and got a bite from the San Francisco-based GLB Press. Yea, he was interested in publishing my work. If I paid him. Eight hundred bucks for two hundred fifty copies (what I realized later was vanity publishing), which he promised to distribute in gay book stores in key markets. For the cover, I got a local photographer who lined up a couple of humpy bartenders for the shoot.
But there were two strikes against me from the beginning, First, my publisher was gravely ill and about to fold if he couldn’t find a buyer, so promotional support was minimal. Secondly, exclusively gay bookstores, an institution for decades, and, for that matter, exclusively gay publishers were beginning to fade away as mainstream publishing houses saw the profit potential including popular “LGBT” titles in their dossiers and carrying the books in their outlets.
The result was my book didn’t go much anywhere, and I was about ready to reactivate my stamp collection as a diversion when a new player came to town.
His name: WWW.
The E-Pub Revolution
In 2010, swept by blogger fever, I launched “Confessions of a Str8 Gay Man,” my trice-a-week commentary on the highs and lows, triumphs and short comings of contemporary American gay life and the mainstream social and political firestorms that impact it.
Guys over the years have asked why I called it what I did; a few even thought it pretentious. But as I said in my inaugural blog, to my intended audience:
“I know you’re out there. Guys like me. Str8 gay guys, guys who are guys who want guys who are guys. Some bullshit at times – can two guys ever avoid it? – but Calvin Klein cologne, never. You’re out there in the urban jungles leading the gay solo life, or married in suburbia, sometimes with kids, checking out the gym sauna or that adult bookstore on the sly. You’re auto mechanics, teachers, lawyers, UPS drivers, corporate execs, clerks, jocks and beer guzzlers. Some of you still have one foot in the closet for whatever professional or personal reasons. Then there are those of you who’ve kicked the door off its hinges and don’t give a fuck what people think because you’re confident in your masculinity and feel that what it is to be a man has a lot more to do with what’s upstairs in your head than what you’ve got between your legs. Some of you like giving it, others like getting it, but while you may use terms like “top” or “bottom” in your conversations or web profiles to cut to the chase, you hate labels. You’re a homosexual – not a fag – because you’re a guy who just happens to want a guy and knows what a guy wants.’
‘Sure, being gay can be adventurous, but because we haven’t got a script like straights, it can also be a challenge. That’s why I think it’s time us guys had something to guide us and talk about what we want and think without all that fag fluff, glitter and gloss that the media and even our own sub-culture peddles. I’ve lived and played in New York City, L.A., and South Florida, hotbeds of gaydom, and traveled throughout most of the U.S., and what I try to do here, is give you guys a heads up on what it is to be gay in America and, most importantly, how best to navigate the invariably rough bumps all of us in this Life will encounter sooner, if not later. A gay fantasy with walks on the beach and hot showers this book ain’t (though there’s an ample amount of sex to keep you, well, happy).’
‘Unlike some gay propagandists that paint a rosy, cum-stained picture to sell their camming hunks, two-for-one drink specials, or stainless steel douches, I have no agenda other than to tell the truth as I’ve seen it. Some of you, when you read my unvarnished, highly biased observations, opinions and advice, sprinkled with a healthy dose of true confessions, will say “right on, bro!” But I’m sure there will also be just as many of you out there who’ll shout, “who the fuck does this arrogant queer think he is?” So be it.”
“Confessions” is now in its seventh year and when I started my personal Facebook page, I automatically had my posts appear there as well. Today, I have close to five thousand FB “Friends.”
My “Confessions” manifesto has been mirrored in much of my fiction, stories about men on the edge.
Doing “Confessions” has also had other benefits. Besides giving me a soapbox for my often unorthodox views, blogging has taught me to write faster. I was always a quick writer in PR where you’re constantly facing marketing and media deadlines, but my avocation as a blogger sped up my thinking process even more, a skill that I easily transferred to my fiction writing.
From a larger perspective, the web ushered a new era for us authors. No longer did we have to kiss the asses of literary agents or sublimate ourselves to publishers. If they didn’t like or want our stuff, hey, we could self-publish! And self-publish for pennies as e-books which, thanks to popularity of Kindle in particular which today dominates 80% of the market, are changing people’s reading habits.
(The publisher of my novel “The Czar of Wilton Drive” admitted that self-publishing is giving small publishers that cater to a niche audience like gay readers a run for their money.)
So using a company in Colorado, Book Nook, that transferred my Microsoft manuscript into an e-book format, as well provide me an artist to create a cover, I self-published a compilation of my blogs under the title, “Confessions of a Str8 Gay Man” as an e-book in 2011 which I uploaded myself onto Amazon and Barnes and Noble. A year later, I came out with a second edition, and soon after self-published my memoirs, “Furry Man’s Journal,” which followed my life as a gay man from the dawn of gay liberation through the AIDS crisis to today’s web-driven lifestyle as told through my experiences with the dozen or so iconic furry men I’ve known in my life.
The main challenge of self-publishing is promotion. It’s the old story: it’s not enough to do something; you’ve got to let world know you’ve done it. I used my blog to promote my stuff and set up an author website, but not totally versed in social media, which frankly was not as expansive as it is today, I also tried more expensive venues. These included ads on the male hook-up sites or flyers distributed through the bars here in Lauderdale in an attempt to reach my demographics. One advantage living here is that Lauderdale is a gay vacation mecca, visited by gay men from across the country and around the world, so that distribution of my propaganda went way beyond the Florida state line.
But again, these cost money and generated mixed results (you know whether they’re doing any good from the sales stats generated weekly by Amazon and B&N).
The other challenge is that the number of gay and gay-friendly niche publishers continue to decline.
That’s why is was both helpful and affirming to have gay publishers agree to publish my last three books: “Not in It for The Love,” picked up by Britain’s Totally Bound Press; “The Czar of Wilton Drive” published by Kokoro Press; and “Buy Guys” released by Wilde City Press. Through them I was “adopted” by editors who not only pick up on typos but know what sells.
Recently, to supplement their limited PR resources, and my own promotion on my blog, author website and FB pages, I hired a publicist, Indigo Marketing and Design which, for a very nominal cost, has expanded my social media penetration through guest blogger opportunities on gay lit sites and reviews through lit outlets like Goodreads.
Now, I admit that not everybody loves my stuff, but since I’m not writing to make money, criticism, while bothersome, won’t kill me.
After all, if I didn’t like writing to begin this – for myself – why do it at all?
Dealing with Editors
If you’re lucky enough to have your manuscript picked up by a publisher, it ain’t over yet. The next hurdle is dealing with one of its editors, a necessary evil.
Necessary since your masterwork needs to follow the publisher’s guidelines (more on that in a second); the “Authors Style Guide,” which one of my publishers shared with me and covers everything from formatting, critical in this era of the e-book, and correct punctuation and grammar, to when to write out numbers; and good old proofreading. No matter how many times l read my final ‘script out loud (the best way to catch errors), I still miss a slew.
Then there’s the evil side of dealing with editors. That’s when they sadistly wreck your precious writer’s ego and “suggest” substantive changes to your stuff. Like one editor who found a scene between my two male protagonists/lovers where, while attempting to out a pizza place in an upstate New York redneck town, one leans over and eats the cheese over his lover’s beard. I thought this was fucken erotic as hell. My editor didn’t agree.
Guess who won. You have to pick your battles.
Now, virtually every gay publisher (and there aren’t a hell of a lot of them left since mainstream publishing houses have followed the money trail) has the same list of no-no’s: no incest, no pedophilia, no forced rape, no violence strictly to titillate, and no bestiality. A manuscript which pivots on this kind of stuff will get an immediate rejection. But if the stuff is only sprinkled here and there, well, that’s where the editor comes in to do the pruning and get you, the author, to bridge any gaps with new PG-13 material.
And since a significant portion of readers of male gay erotic fiction are women, selling romance between your protagonists is an absolute. If it’s there but in an understated way as two real gay guys might express it, you’ll be asked to beef it up till the saccharin comes out of their ears.
And so not offend, kinky shit some gay guys do all the time like fistfucking, rimming, and barebacking (it’s a myth more guys are using condoms – just look at the HIV rates) will need to be excised or toned down. We wouldn’t want that frustrated housewife in Des Moines who doesn’t know how to ask her husband if she can suck his cock throw up. Ditto overt infidelity, i.e., sleeping around. Guess only str8 romance can do that.
As a college prof who taught academic writing, l often used Microsoft Word’s “track changes” feature to note suggested changes or question material right in the margins of the copy on student essays. If you’re not familiar with it, get crackin’. Editors use it almost universally to communicate what they feel you need to change.
If you’re a decent writer or one accustomed to the publishing world or even self-publish, you probably looked at your “final” manuscript half a dozen times. And that’s before you let a trusted friend whose honest, unfiltered criticism you respect read your “Gone with the Wind.” And doesn’t like it and suggests major changes. Like an avid reader of male erotic gay fiction who my publisher put me in touch with who loved my novel, The Czar of Wilton Drive” but who thought my next manuscript l was only beginning to hustle to publishers needed major work. I listened and made just about all the changes he suggested, and l think it made my novella stronger and probably helped get it picked up by a publisher.
But even after all that, you got to be ready for the red ink. If you honestly feel the editor, who is taking orders from your publisher no matter how much the publisher (mostly female) initially loved your stuff, is compromising your message or writing style, you have two options:
Swallow your shitty little writer’s pride since you want the cache of a publisher’s Good Housekeeping seal of approval connected to your book, and make the changes; or
Pull out and either let your manuscript lie in USB drive purgatory, or self-publish.
After all, it’s your make believe name on your make believe story, damn it
Authors and Writing Styles That Influenced Me
To be honest, I’m not an avid reader of novels – magazine articles are more my game. Even in college, I fudged a bit and used Cliff Notes to get through the voluminous reading demands of an English major. And I rarely read someone else’s erotic fiction for fear I might subliminally copy them. Reading or writing fantasy, somewhat of the rage today in both books and film, doesn’t thrill me.
But there have been a handful of writers that have made their mark on me for their realism and their attention to detail. Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, Tennessee Williams for his earthy sexuality, Camus, whose novella, “The Stranger” is a masterpiece of profound brevity, ditto with Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” and, of course, Virginia Woolf, who with “To The Lighthouse” crystallized the technique known as stream of consciousness.
But, hands down, the writer who most influenced me was Mark Twain and his “Huckleberry Finn.” Hey, I taught it when I was the one man high school English Department for my 65 member private boy school, the job I took in Florida after leaving New York and my thirty plus year PR career. It’s considered America’s first true novel, but what it taught me was the power of the rite of passage, episodic approach which enriches the plot with stories within the story, and explodes the opportunity for introducing new, fresh characters that help change the dimensions of your protagonist.
In fact, the plot and characters for my novella, “Not In It For The Love,” were inspired by Twain and Huck. My protagonist, Josh, begins as a kid of North Florida trailer park trash, a druggie dad and alcoholic mom, runs away (much like Huck) to work as a waiter at his uncle’s motel in Key Largo where he moonlights as a prostitute to spice up married couples’ sex lives. He impresses Bishop, a Wall Street investment broker checking out the motel for possible acquisition by a major hotel chain, who takes Josh back with him to New York to be his trophy boy where Josh continues his bunk hopping in the NY gay scene of the 1990’s. Content up to then with just the sex, Josh falls in love with Hylan, a young, biracial, wheelchair bound musician. But their plans to run away take a strange twist when 9/11 hits the city – and the world.
I adopted the same strategy with “The Czar of Wilton Drive.” Again my protagonist, Jonathan, is a young drifter, this time living on Staten Island, NYC, going nowhere as a Perkins server until he inherits two of Fort Lauderdale’s most successful gay bars from his late gay uncle who had been ostracized from the family when Jon was just a young boy.
Going down to claim his inheritance, Jon meets his late Uncle Charlie’s dubious leather friends, two of whom he falls in love with, and is swept into Lauderdale’s gay underbelly of drugs and deceit. By the end of the book, he is no longer the “wet-behind-the-ears” kid from Staten Island.
With “Buy Guys,” my latest novella, I’ve once more used the episodic approach to carry my two main characters, Pete and Blaze, again, young, pretty and nowhere, through their new “careers” as Fort Lauderdale hustlers, and right into trouble that threatens them both.
NYC’s Leather Scene: Gone But Not Forgotten
Once upon a time, there was a sign stenciled in white on the black wall of the tight, SRO-style john at one of NYC’s sleaziest West Village bars, the Spike. “Don’t Flush for Piss.” That sign said it all.
True, you can still find vestiges of the Sleaze Factor and echoes of the glory days of the seventies, eighties and nineties in Manhattan’s new Eagle, which opened shortly before I moved to Florida in 2002, or Fort Lauderdale’s Ramrod leather bar. But for real authentic sleaze you’d have to take a time machine back to New York City’s West Village Sleaze Alley threesome, the Spike, the Eagle and the Lure.
For anybody in the leather/levi scene of decades past and living in New York, visiting these bars on a Friday and Saturday night was a given. You wouldn’t just visit one of them even if essentially the same guys frequented all three. You’d have your early evening beer at the Rawhide in Chelsea (for those of us who came in from the ‘burbs parking in the West 20’s was saner). But by 11ish you were trotting your levied ass (or bare one if you were wearing chaps under your trench) down to West Street. The streets were dimly lit and kinda scary to be honest, but you didn’t care. You were butch (with no shirt under your leather jacket on a 10 degree NYC January night so your tits were all perky for your grand unveiling in the bar) and about to enter Manhattan’s Butch Zone. The “S” bars were all within reasonable walking distance of one another, so making the circuit was easy even with the wind blowing in your face.
And when you’re Saturday night horny, four or five blocks in sub-zero weather means nothing. Remember these were the days long before you were able to connect naked in your bedroom on the web.
While the other bars of the triumvirate were a bit kinder when it came to dress code, at the Lure it didn’t matter what you looked like; if you were wearing sneakers or, Jesus, after-shave or cologne, Mr. Bouncer would turn you away.
And once you entered these temples to sleaze, there was no place, I mean NO PLACE, to move except against another sweaty body in bars the size of the men’s section at any Macy’s. The smell of man-drenched arm pits and chests, beer-laden piss, even carcasses (The Lure, in the heart of the now chic Meat Market, was once a meat packing warehouse) was everywhere. While it was nice to socialize with some buddies, cruising was the main reason you were there in this world before 24/7 cybersex. And even if it was more illusion than reality, these holes had the dingy, dreggy look as if they had been there from the early days of NYC’s pre-gay liberation when being queer meant belonging to some truly secret society of men, not a sub-cultural demographic dissected by Congress and wooed by Corporate America.
On Summer Sunday late afternoons from 4 until about 8, the Sleaze torch was handed over to the Dugout at West and Christopher. There, sweaty men, half naked men flooded the corner, searching for the one last fling or two of the weekend before Monday morning reality came crashing down on all our respective little shitty worlds.
If they hadn’t become victims of the real estate boom that transformed this abandoned sector of New York into a new Soho, (though I understand it’s still called the Meat Packing District), NYC’s gay sleaze alley might still be with us. But alas, that was not to be. While City dwellers and tourists can still point to places like the Eagle or the Ramrod, it just ain’t the same without the West Village threesome, smelly corners of the world that every leather/levi bar today, whether it realizes it or not, is seeking to emulate, replicate, recreate.
Last fall, I visited New York City for the first time in thirteen years, and one afternoon took the subway from my two hundred dollars a night hotel in the garment district down to Sheridan Square and the West Village, my old stomping grounds. Christopher Street, the catwalk of my youth, was now more trendy than sexy, and where my seedy hangouts, the original Eagle, the Spike and the Lure, once catered to the whims of the leather/levi crowd, high rise condos sliced into the sky. The crumpling West Street piers, the site of decadent night time liaisons, were now a sleek urban park, complete with a jogging trail and tourist ferries. Ah, if only the sidewalks could talk.
As for St. Vincent’s Hospital, once a City landmark on 12th Street which ran the health care system I worked for till I left for Florida in 2002 (the system went bankrupt a few years later), it was being converted into luxury apartments.
Somewhat of a sentimental fool, I’ve used the leather motif a few times in my books like “Not In It For the Love” (Totally Bound Press) and “The Czar of Wilton Drive,” (Kokoro Press) but the philosopher was right.
You can’t go home again.
I’m just hoping some gay historian had the smarts to save the “Don’t Flush for Piss” sign in the Spike’s john before everything came tumbling down.
How the L.A. of the Sixties Shaped My Art
Whenever I see a gray-haired, pony-tailed biker or eighteen year old John Denver-look-alike hippy, complete with backpack and guitar strung over his shoulder, I think back to the heyday both are attempting to relive, the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s. Those were the years when we who were just coming out benefited as the first generation of homosexuals from the new won openness of the gay liberation movement. For me, that very formative, impressible time was spent not in NYC that I could practically see out my Jersey window, but a continent away in L.A. where I went to complete my master’s degree at the University of Southern California, a socially acceptable reason for an X-rated movie. You see, living at home (I went to a commuter college for my B.A.) had become impossible, with two well-meaning but overbearing parents who called out the cops if their boy wasn’t home by midnight. L.A. offered me not only freedom, but an unbridled opportunity to play the scene for the first time in my fresh gay life.
When we talk about the L.A. scene today, we think of Silver Lake, by extension Palm Springs, and, of course, West Hollywood. Ah, but before there was glitzy, pretty boy, overpriced West Hollywood, there was Hollywood, not the mythical Hollywood perpetuated even today by entertainment pundits, but a seedier version of the town that by the late ‘60’s was still pretty with its blocks of pastel colored garden apartments, but pretty like a sixty year old whore with a good Max Factor make-up job. I found it ironic that Hollywood as a municipality technically didn’t even exist, and was just a section of the City of Los Angeles. But my studio apartment off Melrose was cheap and, at most, a brisk twenty minute walk from the best of the scene of that day, an important consideration for someone who couldn’t afford a car and relied on L.A.’s joke of a bus service. (These were the pre-subway days.)
Now, in those days, before cell phones and iphones and Manhunt.net’s, you met guys the old fashioned way, mainly in the bars and the baths (the latter of which I didn’t discover until I was back in NYC). One other approach, a path less taken, was the “male-seeking male” personals that only appeared in liberal, quasi-commie, anti-establishment, anti-LBJ pubs like the Los Angeles Free Press. You were assigned an anonymous “mailbox” by the newspaper that forwarded any responses (of course, unopened) to your real address. Heavens, there were no dick or bare ass shots up there for the world to gawk at (you hoped the guy would send you a pic of what he looked like, at least), just four lines and out, thank you ma’am. All by snail mail, which meant it often took weeks to cement a contact, versus the technological miracle of virtually instantaneous e-mail (so why do we go back and forth today with endless e-mails and still end up nowhere? Have things really changed?).
And just like today, guys, well, they lied. Sent pics taken at their Confirmation or descripts that had to be written while the guy was high on grass or LSD. Now I must confess I met some great sex partners, bless you, Free Press, but I also had my clunkers like the guy who told me he was 25 (when I was 22) and who I took two buses to rendezvous with at some gas station only to spot his toup from my seat on the bus. (Yes, I went through with it anyway. Young or old, when you’re horny, a dick is a dick.)
A neighbor in my very gay complex, Tommy, personified the new old Hollywood. A Cincinnati transplant and beautician by trade, he had been a wigmaker for one of the studios but had recently lost his job and was living on unemployment. His hobby? Collecting match covers from whatever club or cheap motel he had been in and covering his bathroom wall with them. He soon became my tour guide to the Hollyweird club scene.
There were plenty of bars to choose from in the Hollywood of the 70’s: levi, leather (mainly in Silver Lake), and nelly (they weren’t called twinks then), all filled with mostly young guys. Just like me. But the two clubs I remember most fondly were Gino’s (named for its owner), a dance bar on Melrose that I reminisce about every time I hear the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back;” a super hit at the time; and The Farm, a ranch-motif bar with sawdust on its dance floor, where I fell in love with half a dozen handsome, rugged guys, again, young and hot, every time I went.
And after the bars closed, just about everybody ended up at Arthur’s Diner off Hollywood Boulevard which was almost as cruisy as the bars and sported more pretend women than the genuine article most nights.
But for those of you gay men under 30 who romanticize the ‘60’s, not everything was rosy. Remember, it was the height of the Vietnam War, and every one of us dreaded opening our mailboxes to find that love letter from Uncle Sam. I naively thought I would be exempted from the draft because I was continuing my education, but I was dead wrong. The prevailing notion at the time was that admitting you were a fag could mark you for life, career wise. But through a lesbian neighbor I made contact with a physician who got guys off, a libertarian who even resembled Timothy Leary. For a hefty fee, he morphed my nervous stomach syndrome into a full-fledged bleeding duodenal ulcer that earned me a 4-F. It’s still the best $800 I ever spent in my life.
So, why, you ask, did I ever leave this wet dream of a lifestyle, after getting my M.A. degree, for cold, bleak New York and my parents’ outstretched tentacles?
I was broke, living on Campbell Soup towards the end. To this day, I’ll never use Bank of America that, in those poverty-stricken days of my youth, charged me a fee every time I withdrew money from my quickly dwindling account.
I also suffered from the chicken or the egg syndrome. Without money, I couldn’t buy a car, and without a car, it was hard to land a decent paying job. Desperate to keep my long Beatles style hair, I even bought a short hair wig at a Hollywood novelty store for interviews. I finally managed to land a part-time gig in the basement of the now defunct Broadway Department Store on Hollywood Boulevard, not far from the still very much alive Roosevelt Hotel, gift-wrapping other people’s stuff. Not exactly a career goal for someone with two degrees.
I did apply for one job connected to the old Hollywood, the position of “title writer,” whatever the hell that meant, at glorious MGM. Taking the bus out to Culver City, however, by then ghettoized and resembling more a dingy warehouse district than the sacred home of the “dream factory,” my idealizations of a glamorous L.A. were abruptly blown, and not getting the job, I realized my own fantasy of living and working here was not to be.
My only real friend, out-of-work neighbor Tommy, left in desperation for his hometown in Ohio, hoping his old beauty shop would take him back. His sacred matchbook collection ended up on the curb in the garbage
Finally, Mother Nature reared her ugly head. Living in L.A., you get used to tremors anytime of the day or night. But when the earthquake of ‘71 hit, – my apartment was spared any serious damage but businesses like Broadway suffered broken windows and ruptured pipes, and a hospital in “The Valley” collapsed – I took it as a sign that it was time for this gay boy to head home. The rest, as they say, is history.
So, too, for me, was L.A.
Yet, in all my books, I have tried to recapture that easy, breezy lifestyle I once enjoyed for a brief blink of my life when responsibilities were someone else’s game.
How Writing Erotic Fiction Led to My Fifteen Minutes of Fame In Porn
Now posing in the nude can be oh-so-artsy or down-and-dirty smutty depending on who’s doing it and for what. My first plunge in exhibitionistic immortality came oddly enough from a fine arts doctoral student who reached out to me a few years ago down here in Fort Lauderdale where I live on the hook-up site, Daddyhunt, to pose nude for his photo project called “Guys in Their Living Space.” The best of the shoot would be displayed, wall mural size, along with those of a dozen other men, at a gallery in Miami’s new Art District as part of his doctoral dissertation.
The shoot took a few hours and Doug, tall, all ass and geeky, was purely professional about the whole thing, doing the shoot with me sprawled naked in my living room. No erections here, more like Michelangelo’s soft-cocked Adam.
The night of Doug’s exhibit, I dragged along one of my buddies who still didn’t believe what I had done. After pondering myself up on a wall, bigger than life, ten feet by six feet, and, well, getting self-aroused, I stepped back and quietly observed the reactions of my admirers, mostly retro-hippy collegiate types, with a sprinkling of older couples and smartly dressed yuppies. Surprisingly, the only other gay men in the room were those up on the wall, all with friends or lovers.
Only one man, an older guy, dressed in a blazer and slacks, actually recognized me as the man in the picture and coming up to me at the refreshment table quipped, “Nice tan, young man.” If he only knew I was probably older than he was.
A few years later, again at an age when most men – straight or gay – would be content to have their remote control for their TV in their lap, I went on the now defunct male escort site “Rentboy” to gain the hustler’s perspective of what it was it was like to be a man-for-hire. After all, I would use the hustler motif in two of my books, “Not in It For the love,” published by Totally Bound Press; and in my latest work, “Buy Guys,” published by Wilde City Press. Believe or not, that one month I was on the site, four men plunked down a hundred and fifty dollars to spend an hour with me.
And so, in a convoluted way, it was desire to experience what I would write about that led to my fifteen minutes of fame in porn. Chris, a producer for San Francisco-based Pantheon Productions that specializes in older men, bear and daddy porn, was canvassing for potential new talent for some planned shooting dates in Lauderdale, saw my RB ad, and e-mailed me, asking if I might be interested.
I only hesitated for two reasons and not that my high school English teacher would ever see the results: would I be able to perform, i.e., keep Mr. Peter up for a four hour shoot, Viagra or no Viagra; and not so much how much I’d make but when I’d get paid.
You see, I had already been hustled by a local porn producer who when asked that question said payment would be forthcoming six to eight weeks after the shoot. Huh? And what if he snookered me? What was my recourse? Complain to the Better Business Bureau of Porn Distributors?
But Chris assured me I would be paid the day I did the shoot and that I could do a “solo” if I liked. I was still a bit gun shy till Chris added it would be just me and him and that he would provide all the arousal material I needed. With that he e-mailed over his pic. He was a youngish, tight bodied, handsome fucker complete with goatee, not some old, fat, leering troll as I imagined most porn directors to be. He apologized for not being hairy to which I replied, “Don’t worry, you’ll do.”
On the day of my junket into the world of virtual sex, I reported to one of the local guesthouses by the beach where Chris had rented a suite. He met me at the door wearing only a pair of cargo shorts and was obviously pleased with my furry, equally shirtless body.
“Yep, you’re definitely daddy material,” he said with a sly smile.
After I signed my life away or I should say my images into residual-free perpetuity, we bantered around a screen name. Randy which I used on rentboy was already taken so we decided on Ray Andrews, my real first name and Andrew my middle name. I asked where Ray Andrews would surface, either Pantheonbears.com or Hotoldermales.com. “Probably both,” he went on, stroking my crotch, “you fit ‘em both real well.” I wondered if guys still bought DVD’s with all the porn on the web, and Chris concurred that that end of the business had transitioned to streaming but there was still money to be made.
All that was left was the shoot.
We started with stills of me in a jockstrap and boots, first sprawled across a chair, my legs lasciviously spread, then posed against the wall. From all angles of course.
“Nice pouch, daddy,” Chris replied as he casually let his shorts drop to the floor in between snaps. He wasn’t wearing underwear.
Then came my own unveiling, and with this boyish 40 year old standing there naked in front of me, every so often pulling on his nice cut cock which was getting hard, I had no problems in the erection department. By the time we moved to the video, he was even coming over to give me an occasional lick or two in the right places. I knew it was all for the camera, but I can’t deny this aging faggot didn’t enjoy it.
It didn’t take much to get me close and I had to actually hold back a bit so Chris got his required ten minutes of footage, zooming in closer and closer, as cum finally cascaded over my dick and the camera lingered there like some photographer for National Geographic shooting a newly erupted volcano.
As I cleaned up, I asked Chris if he wanted me to give him some “relief” but he just gave me a kiss and said he was O.K. Spoken like a true porn coach.
“We usually pay by check but I was able get to the ATM. Cash OK?”
“No problem,” was my understated reply.
We parted cordially, he promised to look me up for a possible dynamic duo next time he was in town, and I didn’t bother to count the bills till I got back to my car. Because ATM’s only spit out twenties, he had actually overpaid me for the session – $260 instead of the $250 he had quoted when we were still in e-negotiations.
I looked at my watch. I had been with Chris for exactly 57 minutes.
The easiest money I ever made in my life.
As a kid, I thought movie stars never grew old and today I still think photography in all its forms is the closest thing we have to immortality. So if I’m lucky enough to live to ninety-seven, I guess there just may be some young boy out there in Cyberland still jerking off over my furry daddy bod, forever perpetualized in time one warm Lauderdale Tuesday afternoon in a room by the beach.
More About My Latest Book, “Buy Guys:” My One Month Career As A “Rentboy”
They say write about what you know, but if I was going to write erotic gay fiction about hustlers, as I did in “Not In It For the Love” and more recently, “Buy Guys,” well, logic would dictate I have to experience being one myself, right? So, at an age when most gay men are content to have the remote to their TV or DVD player in their lap, I plunked down my fifty bucks of Visa dollars and posted a profile on the now defunct rentboy.com.
But honestly, would someone actually pay for me, even if time had been kind, to have sex with them?
A buddy once said to me that he found it pretty pathetic that somebody had to pay for sex. But I heartedly disagree. Sure, sex can be a wonderful exchange between two people, but why can’t it also be a commodity for those willing to buy what they want, just like the newest tech toy or an Abercrombie and Fitch polo? Contrary to the notion that only losers pay for sex, there are plenty of good looking guys out there, busy with high power 24/7 careers or entwined in complicated personal lives, who just choose to take the expedient route. I’ve always been an advocate for making prostitution in this country legal and get over our collective Puritanical hang-ups. Make sure the boys and girls are disease free, and tax ‘em, baby.
“Who’s your daddy?” was my on-screen persona, trying to create a market niche distinct from all the pretty boys, and I openly admitted I was over 40 in my ad (how much over 40 I conveniently left out), but rationalized that tidbit with the tagline, “but you did say you wanted a daddy, didn’t you?”
I low bowed my hourly rate to $150 so I’d have a better chance at scoring, given the stiff competition, and made myself “out only” – their place, not mine. Would-be clients could contact me either via email on the site or my cell phone #, and I used a Tracfone just for that so if or when I had any issue associated with my new career – as in being stalked, like I should have such problems – I could chuck the phone just like a drug dealer.
So what does it take to be a Rentboy, besides, of course, some alluring physical attributes (mine I hoped would be my still boyish looks and a tight compact furry body I worked hard at to maintain) and a lot of moxie?
(a) The ability to do it with just about anyone, and if you’re playing the top like me, you know dicks don’t lie, which I figured wouldn’t be a problem given some of the loser tricks I’ve had over the years. You just put yourself in a fantasy mode, right? I soon learned what kept your libido steaming was the fact the guy wanted you bad enough, he’d pay for you. I later read professional escorts need money in their eyesight even when they’re having recreational sex, like Pavlov’s dog.
(b) A feeling of super-superiority and super self-confidence, even if it’s all pretend.
(c) The absolute resistance to ask the guy what he looks like. Yes, you need to know what he’s looking for, but, again, those big bills on the night stand are what are supposed to arouse you,
not whether he looks like Woody Allen’s older brother.
When a week went by after posting my ad and I got no takers, I was convinced I had pushed the envelope too far, that I was a jerk for even thinking I could pull this off at my age, with all the twenty something, thirty something porn star quality meat that was vying for that same universe of hungry, lonely men. What was I trying to do? Make the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest male hooker?
Ah, but my feelings of dejection were premature. At the beginning of my second week I got a hit, and by the end of the month I had had four guys pay me for sex: a social anthropologist and university professor in town to judge a doctoral dissertation; a vacationing retired dentist from Palm Springs; a farm boy cute, multimillionaire software developer from D.C. in town to close a deal and who wanted me to play “coach.” We spent the last twenty minutes of his hour talking about his mousey wife and two kids.
My last “client” was my greatest challenge, a big guy, as far away from my sexual preference as, well, a woman, but do him I did, thanks to a 100 mg, of Viagra and my determination to pass my male escort final exam.
So what did I learn from my month as a rentboy? That physicality and physical attraction defy and transcend social class, professional standing, race, and most of all, personal pride; and that while money can’t buy you love, it sure as hell can buy you one of the best fucks of your life.
BTW, my brief career as a rentboy led to a gig on a male porn site, hotoldermale.com, but that’s a story for another day.