By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Five years ago, I was an unemployed writer. I had never been published, and with the exception of a $600 poetry award in college, I had never penned anything for a paycheck. I was in my late 20s, and deciding to be a writer was my latest reckless career move. But if I'd learned anything from the process of continually reinventing myself, it was that I'd have to start out working for free. So I interned. I took assignments at no-budget zines. I scoured the Writer's Marketfor work-for-hire. I was willing to write about things I loathed, like golf, gardening and technology. Then one day I saw a listing for an erotic publishing house.
I was never a girl to shy away from a good Chesty Morgan video, so I contacted the publisher. We went around and around, with him politely dissuading me and me politely insisting I was the writer for him. Finally, he told me the truth: "We're a gay male erotic publishing house."
I told him I'd send him a sample. In two hours, I pounded out four choppy pages of "Kip's Big Problem," the tale of some poor sod with an enormous randy rod that positively sickened his girlfriend. Luckily for Kip, a sympathetic gay neighbor took care of his pent-up frustrations through a knothole in their fence. The publisher called me, aghast.
"This is so cheap!" he giggled. "And you're a woman—amazing."
Then I came clean. "I'm a lesbian, too," I said.
He couldn't believe it. He told me to submit a less smutty story for their next anthology, and thus I became a gay male writer.
They always say you should write what you know—so I was in deep shit. Fortunately, like a lot of lesbians (although they'll rarely admit it), I liked watching gay porn. There's just something terribly hot about two gorgeous men getting it on. That gave me a little background, but I needed more. For the next few weekends, I made sure to attend every cocktail party my boyfriends threw. I didn't need to get them drunk to find out their naughtiest secrets. I absorbed the gay male mind, and I had questions that needed answering: Do you take turns being the catcher, or is it always the same guy? What else do you do besides play the skin flute? Is riding the rump range always the finale?
It was one hell of an education. I found out femme guys are not fantasized about, but they are highly prized commentators. That usually the pitcher and catcher roles don't change up, but it's not unheard of. That bleeding the weasel was a constant man thing, regardless of sexual preference. That hummers are king. I also acquired a much broader vocabulary.
Then the fun part began: constructing creative scenarios to house what can be the most monotonous of acts. Since then, I've churned out half a dozen tales of firemen, lumberjacks, cable men, cowboys and the always-popular hetero pinch hitter. I dabble in campy language, humor and even a little poetic prose. As long as their melons are ripe and their one-eyed trouser trouts are behemoths, I can play with Tarzan and John, Butt Rogers in the 69th Century, and Smokin' the Bear Mounties. I use a pseudonym to keep the illusion intact, and I've figured out there are roughly 50 ways to describe a slab of salami.
But the coolest part about this gig—and the reason I continue to do it even though I don't have to anymore—is that it's a goddamn breath of fresh air. And who thought I'd ever say that about a knobber?