Lesbian Sins: Twisted Loves by Mark Ryan (Robert Silverberg, Bedside Books, 1959)
Robert Silverberg wrote a handful of Bedtime/Bedstand Books as “Mark Ryan” — Twisted Loves, Company Girl, Suburban Affair, Suburban Sin Club. All seemed to be published in 1959, so he wrote them in 1958-9, before moving to Midwood and Nightsand in 1959-60 (for better money no doubt, as Bedstand paid $400-500 per mss., but still decent money for the time, the equivalent to $5K).
Twisted Loves is one of those late-50s taboo lesbian novels. Connie Chapin is a secretary in New York, a hopeful actress whose never even gotten an audition; the novel opens with her in a bar getting drunk, drowing her pain in booze, fighting off men who try to “make” her. She hates men: her four relationships and encounters have been bad and heart-breaking.
After fighting off a fat drunk, she stumbles out of the bar. She falls on the ground and is recued by an older woman who sees her — “Lee.” Lee is 40, a successful lawyer with an Upper West Side home, mannish and flat-chested (all of Silvberg’s lesbians seem to be flat-chested and mannish). She brings Connie back, bathes her, seduces her…and the sex, for Connie, is much better than with any man.
Sober the next day, Connie is shamed by her “Lesbian” act of depravity, though moved by Lee’s generosity and skill in bed. Lee chases her but Connie backs off, and then when she decides all men are pugs, she goes back to Lee and they start a love affair. It is much like Laura Duchamp’s Duet: the older, successful rich lesbian secuding the pretty young trollop.
Lee introduces Connie to Manhattan’s underground elite gay crowd: women who dress like men and take men’s names (Steve, Mike), artty-farty lesbians, gay men, etc. In the 1950s, this was a taboo society, but a strong undercurrent in culture.
When Lee is away in Beverly Hills for a big case for a month, Connie is lonely and needs a woman, and one night makes a move on her roommate, a nympho but straight. The roommates freaks out, finds lesbians disgusting, and moves out.
All during her lesbian romp, Connie is being pursued by a man, Ted. She keeps putting him off but eventually gets together with him, falls in love, plans to marry…
This is typical of lesbian novels wrtten by men: the heroines eventually find the error of their ways and find a nice man to have a nice heterosexual relattionship with. I just read in Susan Stryker’sQueer Pulp (Chronicle Books, 2001) that publishers required unhappy endings in lesbiana and gay male stories, or that the protagonist end up in the arms of the opposite sex — this way the books acted as “morality” and “cautionary tales”, seeminly anti-gay, otherwise they could be prosecuted for obscene materal, especially if the books were sent through the mail. As the laws changed in the 1960s, and with women wrting lesbian pulps, endings were different, such as the books of Ann Bannon or March Hastings.
Not Silberberg’s best, but a good read, humorous at times — such as the girl fight scene: Connie and a former lover of Lee’s lock in a deadly battle, ripping all their clothes off, and in the middle of the cat fight they start to fuck. Classic male fantasy!
An annoying aside: I just paid $25 for Strange Delights by Lauren Beauchamp and it’s the same damn book as Twisted Loves! Except, Connie is re-named Lonnie (maybe because of the novel Connie) and Lee is Vee. Seems Silverberg reprinted a number of his Bedstand Ryan and Challon books as “original” Beauchamps, or even Elliotts. Cahllon’s Campus Sin Club becomes Beauchamp’s Campus Sex Club; Challon’s French Sin Port becomes Elliott’s Rogue of the Riviera; Ryan’s Thirsty for Love becomes Beauchamp’s Wayward Widow…I am pretty sure that Beauchamp’s The Wife Traders is reprint of Challon’s Suburban Sin Club, and Elliott’s Hot Rod Sinners is reprinted as Beauchamp’s Lez Floozies. And seems Beuchamp’s Nurse Carolyn became Elliott’s Registered Nympho, and Beauchamp’s Sin on Wheels to Elliott’s Orgy on Wheels.
I still need to get Ryan’s Illict Affair and Streets of Sin, and Challon’s Suburban Affair and Campus Hellion, and see what Beauchamps or Elliotts they become.