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Art and Sex in Greenwich Village: A Memoir of Gay Literary Life After Stonewall
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Art and Sex in Greenwich Village: A Memoir of Gay Literary Life After Stonewall

by Felice Picano
 

A decade after the Stonewall rebellions, a small, all-gay press named Seahorse began along with Calamus Books and JH Press, which all came together to form Gay Presses of New York. Gay Presses of New York was not only the most successful gay press of its day, but the founders had made their move at the right time and place. Gay Presses of New York also played apart

Overview

A decade after the Stonewall rebellions, a small, all-gay press named Seahorse began along with Calamus Books and JH Press, which all came together to form Gay Presses of New York. Gay Presses of New York was not only the most successful gay press of its day, but the founders had made their move at the right time and place. Gay Presses of New York also played apart in the growth of what is now gay culture, consisting of bookstores, magazines, newspapers, theater companies, and art galleries. Many aspects of the arts, as they swirled around New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco during the 1970s through 1991 were connected to Gay Presses of New York.

Editorial Reviews

Catherine Texiers
Art and Sex in Greenwich Village is a real who's who of the gay literary world from the mid-'70s to the mid-'90s…Picano seemingly knew and worked with everyone who was worth knowing and working with in the G.L.B.T. community. Part of what makes his memoir invaluable and enjoyable is his willingness to dish. Picano functions, in that sense, as an important historian—"a role," he writes, "I never prepared for," yet one he fulfills with remarkable thoroughness…In spite of a tendency to self-aggrandize, calling attention to his own talent as publisher, art director and writer—and as an indefatigable, irresistible and "classically proportioned" lover—Picano has assembled a tremendously entertaining collection of anecdotes and portraits that only a witness (and a good writer) could report in such vivid detail.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

A progenitor of the gay literary movement, as well as a poet, author and publisher, Picano recounts the creatively rich, landmark period during the 1970s and '80s when the first dedicated gay presses arose in New York City. Focusing primarily on SeaHorse Press and the Gay Presses of New York, both founded or cofounded by Picano, he covers the two decades following the 1969 Stonewall riots, outlining how he (and others) fostered a GLBT literary tradition that continues today, with writers such as Edmund White, Andrew Holleran, Larry Kramer and, of course, Picano. Although evocative details thrust the reader immediately into the scene, there's no larger narrative to anchor them. Dense with information, the book is weighed down by page after page of authors' names, dates and titles of books, almost like a veteran's memorial. Writing informally, Picano also has a tendency to digress and jump confusingly forward and back in time. This highly personal account of an important and often neglected area of gay history offers compelling material that makes a reader long for a more objective account. But until that book is written, this is the most complete document of the gay book publishing movement to date. (Aug.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Prolific poet, best-selling author, and publisher Picano (Like People in History) draws on 30 volumes of his journals begun in 1968 as well as his self-described "pleasure or curse" photographic memory to detail the nascent gay literary movement and many of the publishing houses that gave rise to it. This book grew out of exhibits and the author's lectures, which he found raised more and increasingly complex questions than he could address in person. The answers he here provides fill a void in gay history as he takes readers through a maze of names, dates, titles, and places over a span of 20 years, beginning with his decision to found the SeaHorse Press in 1977 and continuing through the closing of the Gay Presses of New York in the mid-1990s. Readers also get a history of the Violet Quill Club and learn of the role it played in Picano's and other writers' lives. They will want to keep this on their reference shelf for consultation long after reading. An index would have been highly valuable. Recommended for all public and academic libraries.
—Mark Alan Williams

Kirkus Reviews
A writer who was there and did all that chronicles perhaps the most significant period in the history of gay literature. The Stonewall Riots of 1969 sent gay writers, artists and actors from their closets to their desks, studios and theaters. There for the next 30 or so years they created a body of candid, forthright, often laudatory works about gay life. One of the most prolific of them, Picano (Fred in Love, 2005, etc.) here recalls what happened. The theme is sex: sex as politics, sex as literature, sex as just plain sex. When Picano spotted a tattoo of a seahorse (a male that reproduces) on the bod of a buff Italian man gleaming in the Key West sun, he got the name for the gay press he started in 1976. Five years later, he joined with two other publishers of gay works to form Gay Presses of New York. With six gay writers he formed the short-lived but influential Violet Quill Club. Picano's history of all this is rich with anecdotes, profiles and background notes. He captures the excitement of a Violet Quill reading at Manhattan's Three Lives & Company Bookstore. He traces the development of Harvey Fierstein's Torchsong Trilogy, the play that propelled gay theater into the mainstream and, in book form, helped keep Gay Presses of New York solvent. And he describes authors famous (Gore Vidal) and unknown (the Rev. Boyd McDonald, who wrote scorching accounts of his sexual adventures). Picano's own adventures feed into the story. After Robert Mapplethorpe photographed Picano's genitals, the men had sex. The freedom to do that, then write and publish the story, is what his book is all about. Picano recalls an exciting time with insight, enthusiasm and justifiable satisfaction.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786718139
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
06/28/2007
Pages:
265
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Felice Picano's first book was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Since then he has published twenty volumes of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. Considered a founder of modern gay literature along with the six other members of the Violet Quill Club, Picano also founded two publishing companies: the SeaHorse Press and Gay Presses of New York. He's been a regular writer for the San Francisco Examiner, The Lesbian & Gay Review, and the LAMBDA Book Report. Among his many award-winning books, are the novels, LIKE PEOPLE IN HISTORY and THE BOOK OF LIES. His most recent novel, ONYX, was published to acclaim in 2001. His exhibit "Early Gay Presses of New York," debuted at the ONE Institute in L.A. appeared in San Francisco's Central Library from November 15, 2002 until years end. In 1986, his one-act play, "One O'Clock Jump", was co-winner of the Jane Chambers Play Award, and has been produced in New York, at Seattle Rep and at the 2000 Tennessee Williams Festival in New Orleans. In the fall of 2002, San Francisco's New Conservatory Theatre premiered Picano's new comedy-thriller, "The Bombay Trunk" to acclaim. Picano books out in 2003 were THE NEW JOY OF GAY SEX, Third Edition, 2003, with Charles Silverstein (HarperCollins) and Haworth Press reprints, in a uniform edition of Picano's memoir-trilogy, AMBIDEXTROUS, MEN WHO LOVED ME, and A HOUSE ON THE OCEAN, A HOUSE ON THE BAY. http://www.felicepicano.com/

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