Farewell to Victor J. Banis, pioneer of gay pulp & popular fiction

Victor Banis, sometime in the 1960s

I am a bit late to the sad news that Victor J. Banis, a long time writer, who some have called ‘the godfather of modern popular gay fiction’, died on February 22, after finally succumbing to cancer.

I didn’t know Banis personally, but I was very aware of his work. He published his first short story in 1963 in the Swiss gay journal, Der Kreis. He went on to write heterosexual, bisexual and gay erotic and pulp fiction for Brandon House, Greenleaf Press and Sherburne Press.

Of particular note, from 1966 to 1968, he wrote eight pulp fiction titles in his ‘Man From C.A.M.P.’ series, a overtly queer takeoff of the television spy series, Man From UNCLE. The central protagonist of the successful series, was the openly gay undercover agent, Jackie Holmes, who did battle with BUTCH (Brothers United To Crush Homosexuality). The series helped establish that gay audiences were particularly hungry for stories which portrayed characters in a fun and positive light. In doing so, Banis saw himself as playing a consciously activist role.

In all, Banis wrote over 160 books – pulp, porn, queer and straight fiction and non-fiction, under his own name and pseudonyms such as Victor Jay, Don Halliday, Jan Alexander and Lyn Benedict.Read more

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Street Players: Black Pulp Fiction and the Making of a Literary Underground

While many Pulp Curry readers will be familiar with names such as Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines, I’d wager far fewer know very much about them. Fewer still would be across the details of how they came to be published and their enormous influence. Filling in the gaps in this relatively little known but important aspect of mid-20th century pulp history is Kinohi Nishikawa’s Street Players: Black Pulp Fiction and the Making of a Literary Underground.

Street Players is the story of the now defunct Los Angeles based publishing company, Holloway House. Founded by two white men, Bentley Morriss and Ralph Weinstock, throughout the 1960s it published run of the mill smut paperbacks, mainly sexology and spicy confessional stories, as well as the pin-up magazines Adam and Knight, all written by white writers and aimed at white readers.

The company’s trajectory radically changed with the release of Pimp in 1967. It appeared under the by-line, Iceberg Slim, the street name of a former Black hustler, prisoner and pimp called Robert Beck. Pimp was a huge hit. White readers enjoyed the voyeuristic peek it offered into the subterranean world of pimping. Despite the fact the Beck’s story was heavily fictionalised, Black readers saw in it a genuine slice of their urban ghetto experience.… Read more

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Guest post: the indirect path to writing your book

It gives me great pleasure to welcome New York crime writer, Richie Narvaez, to Pulp Curry. Richie a friend. He is also a hell of a good crime writer. I loved his short story collection, Roachkiller and Other Stories, and I had the pleasure of reading a very early draft of the upcoming novel he is guest posting about today, Hipster Death Rattle, which is also great stuff. I don’t want to pre-empt Richie’s post, but Deathrattle is unique crime fiction take on the gentrification that have been sweeping New York. It drops from Down and Out Books in early March and you can pre-order it here.

You dream of writing a gritty noir but complete a cozy featuring fish detectives. Or you want to write a cozy but end up with a spy thriller featuring 0 cats. Writing is what happens while you’re busy making other plots. If you go after something too directly, if you have an object, an idea that you feel strongly about and you try to represent it as it feels in your head and beats in your chest, you will very often make a mush out of it. So sometimes you need to approach your object in the night like a thief, like a spy scaling a cliff face in order to sneak into a mountaintop stronghold.… Read more

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Sticking it to the Man: Revolution and Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950-1980, now available for pre-order

Sticking it to the Man: Revolution and Counter Culture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950-1980is now available for pre-order here on Amazon.

The book is due out in the second half of 2019 from PM Press, who published Beat Girls, Biker Boys and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950-1980

From Civil Rights and Black Power to the New Left and Gay Liberation, the 1960s and 1970s saw a host of movements shake the status quo. With social strictures and political structures challenged at every level, pulp and popular fiction could hardly remain unaffected. While an influx of New Wave nonconformists transformed science fiction, feminist, gay, and black authors broke into areas of crime, porn, and other paperback genres previously dominated by conservative, straight, white males. For their part, pulp hacks struck back with bizarre takes on the revolutionary times, creating vigilante-driven fiction that echoed the Nixonian backlash and the coming conservatism of Thatcherism and Reaganism.

Sticking It to the Man tracks the changing politics and culture of the period and how it was reflected in pulp and popular fiction in the US, UK, and Australia from the late 1950s onward. Featuring more than three hundred full-color covers, the book includes in-depth author interviews, illustrated biographies, articles, and reviews from more than 30 popular culture critics and scholars.… Read more

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2019 mid-summer reading report back

Summer is the one time of the year I am able find a decent amount of time to read. And, despite going full bore on my PhD at present, this year has, thankfully, been no different. Here is a very brief mid-summer reading report back.

The Real Lolita, Sarah Weinman

I have to fess up to not having read Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, Lolita, or seen either of the films based on it (I have Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 version and, having read The Real Lolita, want to see it). This didn’t stop me from devouring Weinman’s book. The Real Lolita has two threads. The first deals with the 1948 abduction of an eleven-year-old New Jersey girl, Sally Horner. The second looks at the torturous process by which Nabokov created what is his best-known work, the story of a middle-aged literature professor and his obsession and, eventually, sexual relationship with a 12-year-old girl, a story which Weinman contends Nabokov partly based on the Horner case.

Weinman painstakingly recreates the circumstances of Horner’s abduction and sexual grooming by a much older man, and the lengthy police investigation into her disappearance. It is fascinating, at times, horrific stuff and she puts it together brilliantly. I found the second strand concerning Nabokov less satisfying. … Read more

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