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Two vampire novels from the golden age of gay adult fiction offer danger, romance and more than a little super(natural) sex: Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose! In Vampire's Kiss, young, ambitious and ostensibly straight attorney Damon Sanger goes on an epic bar crawl and winds up in the swinging '70s bachelor pad-in-a-house-trailer of Alan Drake, red-lipped, white-haired, demonically seductive drinker of... male essence. Waking up the next morning at home, Damon tries to convince himself that it was just a fling, but soon realizes he has joined the ranks of the "Homosexual Undead." Does he want to be cured, or did Alan simply set him on a road to sexual self-discovery that Damon never realized was the key to sloughing off his upwardly mobile suburban ennui? Vampire enthusiasts of all stripes will appreciate the charms of Barnabas C. Dracula, the sharp-toothed, romantic hero of Gay Vampire. But fans of the vintage horror soap-opera Dark Shadows will feel a special frisson when reading the scene in which he's released from a lonely crypt by lonely, teenaged oil-company heir Davy Swanson, an explicit call back to a mid-'70s episode of the groundbreaking supernatural series. The novel's Barnabas and Davy travel a rough road—one paved with scheming relatives, cruel twists of fate, epic miscommunication and a pack of sex-hungry wolves with designs on Davy's tender flesh—but true love,even with a vampire, is a powerful thing.
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Maitland McDonagh is a longtime collector and advocate for vintage, gay-oriented adult fiction that used to conventions of pulp erotica to explore the emotional, social and political lives of gay men during the 1960s and '70s.The best of these novels integrate stories of sexual romance with larger historical issues, including the psychological effects of living in the shadow of widespread, firmly entrenched homophobia, including self-loathing and the corrosive fear of being exposed, and the liberating effect of finding refuge in the company of other gay men and hope for a less constrained future in the burgeoning gay-rights movement. While adults-only gay pulps were sold first and foremost as erotic entertainment for men who rarely saw themselves depicted in a positive or even sympathetic light in mainstream literature, with the exception of "problem novels," the best of these erotic novels transcend their original function and provide a window onto the past and a then-niche culture on the brink of demanding recognition and contributing to the sweeping overhaul mainstream mores, a process that continues to alter laws and customs designed to deny gay men and women their full rights as human beings.
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