First Pages: Mr. Madam by Kenneth Marlowe
Welcome to First Pages on Fridays! Most Fridays, we share the first pages from a book (usually vintage), along with a bit of information about the author and the book’s history.
Today’s book is Mr. Madam: Confessions of a Male Madam by Kenneth Marlowe and published in 1964 by Sherbourne Press (Los Angeles).
Kenneth Marlowe, a female impersonator, is described on the book’s dust jacket as “queen of a beehive of pretty little homosexual slaves who brought exclusive Hollywood clientele.” Famous author Armistead Maupin once wrote of him, “I met Kenneth Marlow[e] in 1972 when he was in the process of becoming Kate Marlowe. He threw a fundraising Big Band dance at which Sally Rand (then 70) performed her famous Fan Dance under a VERY DIM blue bulb. He called the evening ‘The Ball to End All Balls.'”
Below is an alternate cover, from a later (paperback) printing.
Read these first pages from the “most startlingly candid homosexual autobiography ever written–a significant contribution to sexological literature” (again, from the book’s jacket). Enjoy!
Chapter 1: I Was a Problem
“One day is like another,” I said. “Unusual? No, I have always regarded this place as a kind of Grand Central Station West.”
The comment was prompted by the sum total of everything happening. The phone was ringing, the maid was asking who wanted cream or sugar in his coffee, someone was knocking at the door, and I was trying to explain the Service on the other phone.
“Yes, he’s young, blond and blue-eyed,” I said into the phone, waving the maid to hurry the coffee to the five young men in the living room. “And I know he’ll take good care of you. That’s right, you pay him in cash.”
I hung up the receiver and went back into the living room. The young men were eying all the furnishings. It was elegant. It was me!
My life-sized portrait hung over one of the long champagne-coloured couches. Everything about the apartment reflected the elegance that money can buy.
One of the boys was seated on my white chaise-lounge. I put my five foot five down on the end of the chaise and said, “Move your footsies, Honey, Mother needs to park her tired ass.” It wasn’t that I’d been working it, but keeping a dozen young, beautiful boys working around the clock takes more than talent. I picked up one of the cups and sipped a Cafe Royale.
“You see, my dears, business and pleasure mix well enough when you’ve been knocking around as long as Mother has.” They were new tenants in the building and one of the neighbors had called to ask if I wanted them over for coffee. They were wide-eyed. I love it.
“There’s no pay-off in this town,” I told them frankly, “and that’s quite a problem because you have to be really careful. But Mother’s been extremely cautious. Lean over, sweetheart,” I laughed, “so I can knock on wood.”
I thought several of the boys could be callboy material but they were still a bit green around the gills. They said they wanted to work in offices and stores for a living and get weekly paychecks.
“All right,” I nodded, “but if you ever need Mother, just call and let me know. I might be able to spot you. Pity you’re not blond,” I said to the pretty one. He was attractive, I realized. “My gentlemen callers seem to prefer blonds. But then there’s always bleach.”
One of them flapped an eyelid and said, “I’ll bet you could teach us a few tricks.” My God, had I ever heard that before?! Well, not in the last couple of minutes.
“Honey, you mean technique? If it’s been thought of by anyone, I’ve done it. Yes, my boys have a type of routine technique, I guess. I mean I give them a certain amount of training. But they have to learn to take care of the customer’s needs according to the moment. I don’t suppose there’s much I don’t know about Sex. And there have been moments, sweetheart, when I though I invented it! If I didn’t, I bought the patents from my friend, Polly Adler.”
They all laughed. But they didn’t know how true it was. I’m thirty-six years old and I weigh the same poundage I have for the past twenty years. For nearly three decades I have been actively involved with the little three letter word. It’s taken me all over the world, and believe me, at this point nothing could come as a surprise.
“Oh, it has its ups and downs. Right now everything’s ups and Mother doesn’t have to whore herself. And the money’s rolling in. But I try not to think about tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll probably fall in love again and give it all up. I’ve been in love so many times I feel like Liz of the tabloids on a slow day.”
One of them knotted his gorgeous, fair brow and asked, “How in the world do you get to be a Madam?”
“Like me, honey? Why, do you want to be a male Madam, too?” I did my deep sigh, stretched up the arm in front of me, draped the wrist to glance at my watch and smiled, “Honey, you got the time to listen to all that?”
To purchase a copy of Mr. Madam, visit the Somewhere Books online store.
Visit Queermusicheritage.com for more images and information about this book!