Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Long Leather Cord/Pleasure Reader-Greenleaf Classics/1971

"Larry Townsend" (1930-2008), whose real name was Bud Burnhardt, was one of a handful of writers who used the throwaway medium of pulp erotica to explore a deeply personal erotic landscape at considerable length and depth. Long before Townsend found his niche with the how-to manuals The Leatherman’s Handbook and The Leatherman’s Workbook, he explored bondage-and-discipline fueled sexuality in pulp novels like the sci-fi adventure The Scorpius Equation and The Long Leather Cord, the nonchalantly transgressive story of teens Chuck and Steve, who move in with their smoking hot dad after their mother and stepfather die in a small-plane crash.

Steve and Chuck quickly learn that he’s simultaneously involved with notorious Hollywood madame Beverly Wickersham and deep into gay S&M role playing with his boyfriend Bill. These revelations both open up worlds of erotic possibility and force the (inevitably) handsome brothers to make mature decisions about their sexuality earlier than the average youngster.

Townsend was driven by a black leather/submission and dominance kink but, like fellow pulp writer Carl Corley, he was a romantic at heart. His little leather boys want to be bound, beaten and besmirched, not by studly strangers but by men who love them… even if those men turn out to be being their fathers. Townsend’s "Leather Notebook" column advice to bondage boys for almost 30 years, first in Drummer magazine and then in Honcho, and he lived with partner Fred Yerkes for 44 years; their relationship ended with Yerkes’ 2006 death.

Townsend stood out from the crowd of pulp auteurs by virtue of his straightforwardly good writing: It isn’t elegant, but it's clear, accessible and to the point. He dwelled on neither who-did-what-to-whom details nor on swoony emotions: You always know exactly what’s going on and how his main characters feel about it, but the story keeps moving forward at a brisk clip.

Highly ritualized sadomasochism is a specialized predilection, but Townsend managed to make it seem ordinary – not mundane, mind you, but well within the erotic parameters of the average, broad-minded adult (you know, the one with no interest in all-mod-cons dungeon play but susceptible to the rosy glow of a lovingly-spanked bottom) – without stripping it of its kinky kick.

Browse Reviews of Vintage Gay Pulps
The Boy Avengers, Boys Behind Bars, Chamber of Homos, The Concentration of Hans, From Steve, With Love, The Gay Haunt, His Brother's Keeper, Hot Asset!, The HIS 69 Artist's Sketchbook, Intensive Care, The Long Leather Cord, The Male Maulers, Man Eater, Master of Monfortin, Murder One and Two the Hard Way, The Number on the John Wall, The Pile Drivers, The Sexual Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Tailpipe Trucker, Things Never Went Right... Three Ring Sex Circus, The Wisteria Club

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