Gay Scene by Joan Ellis (Midwood Books, 1962)
Ah, another delighfully fun Joan Ellis sex story with another great Paul Rader cover.
The Gay Scene opens up almost like an Orrie Hitt novel: small town scholl teacher Elise is a bombshell who seems to like married men. She is having an affair with the husband of her childhood best friend. They are caught, and the husband commits suicide. To escape pain and scandal, Elise leaves and heads for New York and a new life.
She also considers her deep secret yearnings for women. Maybe she’s a lesbian and was only sleeping around to deny her twilight desires?
On her way to New York City, she stops off at a small town motel to get some sleep, and winds up trying her hand as a bar girl to make a few extra bucks. When she gets raped, she decides she hates men for good.
In the Big Apple, she meets Carol, a bar model, who gets her a job in that biz. Carol is bi-sexual and they have an affair — her husband waks in on them and freaks out that his wife is with a lesbian. Here Elise is doing it again: breaking up marriages.
But Carol leaves her husband so she and Elise can model bras and live together. Carol introduces her to “the gay scene” in Greenwich Village, and meets Jo, a lesbian she gets a crush on. Carol is freaky and possessive, and Elise leaves her for Jo, and then leaves Jo for Lorna, the daughter of the old man who runs the brassiere company. Loran is 19 and has a temper problem — here we get a good look at lesbian domestic violence. Afraid she may one day kill Elise, Lorna leaves New York.
In the end, Elise finds that reltaionships are complicated and painful with either sex. She and her gay male buddy, Zeth, decide to get married and be each other’s beards.
Probably the best Joan Ellis I’ve read yet.
Reprinted as No Men Allowed.