Welcome to First Pages on Fridays! On 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.
This week’s selection is the pulp novel One to Share by Dallas Kovar, printed by Greenleaf Classics in 1968. As I wrote in an earlier post, Greenleaf Classics, started in the early 1950′s by William Hamling, published both straight and gay/lesbian erotica–often extreme erotica featuring incest, underage participants, group sex scenes, etc. Greenleaf was one of the very first publishers of gay fiction in the United States, paving the way for dozens of other small publishing companies which began selling gay pulp erotica/fiction.
Nothing is really known about Dallas Kovar. Of course, “Dallas Kovar” was probably a pen name, so it’s difficult to know who exactly he/she was. Under that name, this author published several books, including Two to Show and Three to Trade, which were probably sequels to One to Share.
This book is similar in setting and tone to the Loon novels by Richard Amory (discussed in a previous First Pages post, featuring Willow Song).
Here are the first pages from One to Share by Dallas Kovar. Enjoy!
The river boat Highland Mary steamed slowly against the broad, brown flood of the Missouri, turning her tartan-clad lassie of a figurehead toward the eastern bank. A tall, broad-shouldered, ruggedly handsome, blond young man of twenty-three leaned against the starboard rail, his relaxed attitude concealing his excitement. Thaddeus Carpenter looked out over the river and saw a village of part-log, part-frame houses rising from the river wharves up the hills to the high dome of a courthouse, its tall spire reflecting the early morning light. All along the hilltops and spread around the town were thousands of tents and white, canvas-topped wagons. This was St. Joseph, Missouri in April, 1849, the jumping off point for the plains and the land of gold beyond.
As the boat thumped against the dock, the young man threw his saddlebags over his shoulder and vaulted gracefully over the rail. Walking quickly, his muscular thighs straining against his tight buff-colored trousers, he moved away from the brawling, shouting confusion of the waterfront toward the business houses and saloons nearby.
He pushed his way through the double doors of the Empire Saloon and up to the bar. “Whiskey,” he told the Negro bartender, and threw a silver coin on the bar. Then he leaned against the bar and studied the crowd of men who were drinking and gambling in the bright gas lights. Many of the men were indifferent to his presence, some noted approvingly his strong, masculine body, clearly outlined by his tight pants and plaid, wool shirt. Other men, as he knew they would, glanced swiftly over his handsome face and body to stare openly, with amazement and only partly concealed desire at the massive bulge of his crotch. Eyes slightly narrowed, he looked with feigned indifference about the barroom. He needed information and he knew that before long one of the men who studied him furtively, yet eagerly, would approach.
As he threw down his shot of whiskey with a quick gesture, a voice at his side asked, “Can I buy you another?” Read More…
Headlines for Johnny was only published in one edition, by Greenleaf Classics, in 1968. Written by Thorpe Caulder, it contains six short stories. Below is the excerpt from the back cover:
I decided to walk before turning in. It could only have been a masochistic delight that impelled me in the direction of the Sea Lavender. Why I wanted to torment myself by looking at the place where I’d been so blissfully happy and sexually fulfilled with Harold, I don’t know. I guess I was thoroughly mixed up. I knew perfectly well that ultimately I’d be there with Fred. And knowing Fred was there now with the sailor made my insides jump. I had to take a look, scuff around like a Peeping Tom wondering which was Fred’s apartment.
Greenleaf Classics, started in the early 1950’s by William Hamling, published both straight and gay/lesbian erotica–often extreme erotica featuring incest, underage participants, group sex scenes, etc. Greenleaf was one of the very first publishers of gay fiction in the United States, paving the way for dozens of other small publishing companies which began selling gay pulp erotica/fiction. Interestingly, Greenleaf Classics was involved in a 1965 lawsuit, in which a bookstore clerk was convicted on obscenity charges for selling two Greenleaf Classics books; the case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was overturned in 1967.
Despite Greenleaf Classics’ reputation for publishing obscene, extreme erotica, Headlines for Johnny is surprisingly well-written. Yes, it contains graphic sex scenes, but Caulder’s insight into his character’s interior lives and emotional states is really quite wonderful. There are several beautiful and tender scenes between men, framed by evocative descriptions of the participants’ surroundings. Far from a simple smutty adult-store paperback, Headlines for Johnny has some true literary merit. In particular, the description of a judge’s struggle to accept his own conviction of two gay men’s sexual relationship is completely engaging–the reader experiences the judge’s tension and anxiety over the fairness of his ruling.
Unfortunately, because many authors who wrote for Greenleaf Classics and other small pulp publishers did not use their real names (and one author could use dozens of pen names, depending on the subject matter), there is no information about Thorpe Caulder’s real identity. It’s conceivable that he/she wrote dozens of other books, but that information seems to be lost to time.
To purchase your own copy of Headlines for Johnny, visit the Somewhere Books online store.