Book jacket/back: Johnny Rio, a handsome narcissist but no longer a pretty boy, travels to Los Angeles, the site of past sexual conquest and remembered youthful radiance, in a frenzied attempt to recreate his younger self. Johnny has ten precious days to draw the "numbers," the men who will confirm his desirability, and with the hungry focus of a man on borrowed time, he stalks the dark balconies of all-night theaters, the hot sands of gay beaches, and shady glens of city parks, attempting to attract shadowy sex-hunters in an obcessive battle against the passing of his youth.
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John Rechy shows great comic and tragic talents. He is truly a gifted novelist.
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Johnny Rio leaves Phoenix to Los Angeles in the "early dawning moments when the world is purple". He is returning to the city of "Lost Angels" where he was a hustler, after 3 years of isolated recoil in his home town of Laredo, Texas. He is handsome, good-looking, has a slender trained body and he is going for 10 days, just 10 days...Johnny's new convertible car speeds in the desert highway. Immobile black birds ahead and "tragic mots-creatures" that smash against his windshield are a sombre presage of his future destiny.Arriving in LA he finds everything changed, the only remaining constant being the "Cloud" of smog that hovers over the city. Why is he coming back? "Once, it had been the most liberating of experiences - to be desired enough to be paid for". But now he has in his back pocket the 700 dollars he saved in Laredo."Johnny has ghosts to pursue." He calls his old time friend Tom who gave him shelter and treated him like a prince. He walks from Santa Monica pier to Venice West, where there once was a bar which attracted dikes, queens, hustlers, "heads" and others. He stands in one corner of Pershing Square where he hustled before, but nothing is the same anymore. Everything changed and so did he."We awll doomed - we awll go tomorrow." cries a white-haired Negro woman with a black bible in her hands in Main Street. Johnny walks away. He wants to be desired, he needs sex and buys a ticket to an all night porno cinema where he knows that in the dark back rows of the balcony hungry men will come down on him. "Does Johnny Rio consider himself heterosexual?" As a male hustler he would say that he never desired another man, he was aroused only by what the men did to him and after all, he made it only for the money. Now, he has no excuses. Men sit next to him in the cinema and touch him, but Johnny panics and runs away. "I want them to want me, I want them to... love... me, he thinks. But of course, he means 'desire me'." He gets another ticket to the same movie.Johnny awakens in his motel bed naked with a hard-on. Three... Three men came on him yesterday in the cinema, two sucked him and he came two times. He didn't do it for money but for the experience in itself.(to be continued)