While photographers like Bob Mizer and Bruce of LA were busy capturing the well-oiled bodies of off-duty military men and muscle beach bodybuilders, careful to couch their work in terms of health and fitness, a new wave of writers were saddling up to their type writers to bang out explicit and sensational tales of homosexual lust and passion. From the early 1950s on, paperback publishing took a special interest in the freakish underbelly of male homosexuality, turning out cautionary tales like George Sylvester Viereck’s Men Into Beasts and the anonymously penned All the Sad Young Men. But these books, no matter how sensational their subject matter, were mere precursors to the more explicit fare of the 1960s.
Hard-won victories for physique photographers in federal courts opened the floodgates not only for shutterbugs like Mr. Mizer, but for a brand new era of sensational novelists like Sam Steward (aka Phil Andros) a PhD in English, friend to the likes of Gertrude Stein and Alfred Kinsey, and sometimes prostitute, who chronicled his life as a gay hustler in the novel$tud. Publishers like Lynn Womack’s Grecian Guild, Greenleaf Classics, Brandon House, and Publisher’s Export Company churned out titles like Gay Stud’s Trip and Fruit of the Loon at a dizzying pace, taking full advantage of the now less stringent obscenity laws.
Gay pulp eventually fell out of favor, leaving behind libraries-worth of sordid tales, explicit sex scenes and some of the best cover art ever produced in the United States. In a salute to those writers, publishers, and artists who made such masterpieces as The Magnificent Maricón possible, we bring you a gallery of our all-time favorite queer pulp covers. [gallery via Gay On The Range]