Archive for lesbian love

Sex Substitute by Eve Linkletter (Playtime Books #770, 1966)

Posted in lesbian pulp fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , on August 24, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This one came in the mail without a front or back cover.  It’s a lesbian novel by Linkletter. I happened to also catch on cable the movie, Monster, as I was reading this, and they are oddly similar: about butch lesbians searching for love in a prejudiced world.

Sex Substitute is the diary of a 35-year-old woman named Peggy, a “butch” lesbian who has a thing for young lipstick lesbians, who keeps getting hurt and betrayed, often when a lover turns to a man, as we see in the first chapter. She’s worried about being one of those old lonely dykes who chase young tail.  Her rival and friend, a woman named Johnny who hooks on the side for money, tells Peggy that true love and ever-lasting lesbian relationships are impossible for women like them, and she should take the “love them and leave them” route.

Peggy still believes she may one day meet a woman she can be with forever, even marry.  She picks up a young girl walking down the road named Sheila.  Sheila has just jumped out of a car of a man who tried to rape her.  Peggy expounds on the evils of the penis and how women don’t need it. Sheila is naive, a virgin, and has no idea Peggy is a lesbian.

They become friends, and Peggy has her designs on the heterosexual Sheila: she will turn the girl to the joys of the third sex.  Over the course of months, Peggy falls desperately in love and dares not make an overt move for fear she will lose Sheila.

Peggy shares a house with her younger brother, Ray; their parents died and left them some money and a home, which is why Peggy can afford to help Sheila and spend her time drinking and hanging out at lesbian bars.  When Ray and Sheila meet, it is love at first sight, and as much as Peggy tries to keep them apart, Ray winds up asking Sheila to marry him and she accepts.

In a drunken rage, Peggy attacks Sheila and tries to rape the girl, but Sheila fights her off, and agrees to forget the incident if Peggy mainatins herself.  Ray has no idea his sister is gay and would disown her if he knew — which he eventually does.

Having the love of her life marry her brother send Peggy into an alcoholic, suicidal downfall; she gets into a car accident and later tries to kill herself.  But no fear — she does find some love at the end, when she goes to see an old flame she broke up with because the woman wasn’t young anymore.  Peggy realizes if she is going to have gay love in her life, she can’t be picky about age, and the young lipsticks are no longer for her.

At times trite, this is a pretty mature novel about butch lesbian lifestyles, and I’m surprised not to see it on the lesbian classical pulp lists, perhaps an oversight for having been published by schlock house Neva/Playtime, which had an address in Vegas but was really run out of Florida.

There’s a powerful section where Peggy remembers her father visiting a mulatto hooker he was in love with, and the atmosphere of bigotry at the time (and still exists).

If you can find a copy, this is recommended along with Linkletter’s others recently read: Taxi Dancers, Our Flesh was Cheap, and The Gay Ones.

There are about five or so other Linkletter books we will look at soon as well…

The Curious Case of Sloane Britain

Posted in lesbian pulp fiction, Loren Beauchamp, Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

When pop culture historians and critics write about the lesbian paperback pulp era in the 1950s-60s,  the same names are often use das examples: Vin Packer, Randy Salem, March Hastings, Valerie Taylor, Paula Christiansen, etc., with such classics in lesbian pulp Spring Fire, Three Women, Baby Face, Women’s Barracks,  and so on.  Seldom is the name Sloane Britain mentioned, the pen name of Midwood-Tower editor Elaine Williams, although as both a writer and editor, Williams/Britain etched her own legacy in the history of early commercial lesbian fiction.

Williams started with Midwood in 1959, when the company first formed, acquiring and editing novels by Lawrence Block (Shekdon Lord), Donald Westlake (Alan Marshall), Robert Silverberg (Loren Beauchamp), Orrie Hitt, and Mike Avallone, among others.  It’s not clear when she left Midwood, if she did, but she committed suicide in 1964. Seems her family did not approve of her gay lifestyle and had disowned her, a matter she hinted at in her fiction.  She was 33.

She published her first novel with Newsstand Library in 1959, a paperback house out of Chicago: First Person–Third Sex was a deeply personal account of a third grade teacher’s discovery of her “third sex” passion and desire of a “twilight woman.”  It was reprinted in 1962 by Dollar Double Books as Strumpets’ Jungle (see above pic) , back-to-back with Any Man’s Playmate by James L. Ruebel.

Also in 1959, she published with Beacon Books, The Needle, a story about a bi-sexual heroin addict prostitute.

Her next novels for Midwood were 1960’s Meet Marilyn and Insatiable, like The Needle, written commercially for the market; These Curious Pleasures (1961), however, has the same autobiographical, first-person narrative that her first novel does. In fact, the narrator’s name is “Sloane Britain,” perhaps Williams’ indication that this book is based on her own life, rather than the writer’s imagination. 1961 also saw That Other Hunger. Both books sported cover art by Paul Rader.

Other titles were Ladder of Flesh plus two posthumous short novels published as Midwood Doubles: Summer of Sin and Peep Booth.  Three titles, Ladder of Flesh, That Other Hunger, and Unnatural,  were reissued in the late 1960s with new titles: Taboo and Delicate Vice.

Both First Person–Third Sex and These Curious Pleasures break away from the genre norm of lesbian paperbacks in that they end on a gay-positive note, rather than having the protagonist meet with tragedy for her sins of the flesh or meet a male she falls head over heels with, marries, and lives forever after in heterosexual marital bliss.  Publishers such as Fawcett Gold Medal, Beacon, and Nightstand often required this so the Postal Inspector would not prosecute for mailing obscene material in the U.S. Mails — if the lesbian character meets a horrible end or goes insane over her unnatural lust, or repents from sin and finds true love in the arms of man, then the books were deemed to have social value as morality and cautionary tales; if the books ended on a positive note with women loving women, that, in the 1950s-60s, was considered perverted and sick.  Homosexuality was still considered a mental disease that could be cured with medicine, psychology, or religion…

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