Faggots (novel)

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Faggots
Faggots by Larry Kramer.jpg
Cover of the first edition
Author Larry Kramer
Country United States
Language English
Genre Fiction
Publisher Random House
Publication date
1978
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
ISBN 978-0-8021-3691-6
OCLC 43526781

Faggots is a 1978 novel by Larry Kramer.[1] It is a portrayal of 1970s New York's very visible gay community in a time before AIDS. The novel's portrayal of promiscuous sex and recreational drug use provoked controversy. The book was condemned by some elements within the gay community.

Summary[edit]

The main character, Fred Lemish, is loosely modeled on Kramer. Lemish wants to find a loving, long-term relationship. His desires are frustrated as he stumbles through an emotionally cold series of glory holes, bathhouses, BDSM encounters and group sex. He becomes disillusioned with the 1970s "fast lane" lifestyle dominating the gay subculture in and around New York.

Lemish also expresses discomfort with the widespread use of multiple street and prescription drugs helping to maintain the party atmosphere. Faggots details the use of over two dozen 1970s party drugs and intoxicants such as Seconal, poppers, LSD, Quaaludes, alcohol, marijuana, Valium, PCP, cocaine and heroin.

The book moves through, among other locales, a gay bathhouse called the "Everhard" (based on the Everard Baths), a large disco named Capriccio, an orgy at the apartment of a successful gay lawyer, the spectacular opening of a club called The Toilet Bowl, and ends with a tumultuous weekend on Fire Island.

Characters[edit]

While Faggots contains over sixty named persons, only a few are fully fleshed-out characters. Some of the principal actors are listed here:

  • Fred Lemish, 39, mustachioed, once pudgy now trim-waisted; believes he should find true love by 40, very much in love with Dinky Adams; longs for the approval of his straight brother Ben
  • Anthony Montano, Fred’s best friend, in charge of the Winston Man account at the international publicity firm of Heiserdiener-Thalberg-Slough; cruises abandoned dockside warehouses for dark, anonymous trysts; takes 15-year-old Wyatt Bronstein as his lover
...the widest field of shining waxed wood on which to move and glide and shake and boogie and turn and hug and hold and sweat and show the muscles, wiggle the ass, bump your crotch, clutch you tight, spin, spin, wave and shout, look and smile, say good-bye to all our cares, with all our brothers, a lifetime of friends, beside, around, above, bleachers stringing round all sides, everything bathed in light and sound, that legendary sound! ... .9034 psu's of decibelacular sound, all engorging all of the above, Hot Men!, Dancing!, Love!, Friendship!, this legendary spot of Heaven on Earth, our very own beloved exclusive club...
  • Dinky Adams, bearded, in top physical shape, first person Fred ever rimmed and felched; in high demand as a sex partner, he restlessly resists Fred's entreaties to settle down and make a household
  • Richard “Boo Boo” Bronstein, keeps his body in top shape to increase his attractiveness on the gay scene; plotting his own kidnapping to extort money from his hated father
  • Abe Bronstein, millionaire cake-mix manufacturer, finances movies with his riches, considering financing gay film using Fred’s screenplay
  • Patty, Maxine and Laverne, drag queens, stationary dancers, owners of the Balalaika disco; Laverne was Dinky’s last lover before Dinky took up with Fred; despondent after the death of Patty in the fire at the Everhard Baths, Laverne returns to using his birth name, Jack Humpstone
  • Wyatt Bronstein, 15-year-old boy from New Jersey, grandson of Abe and nephew of Richard, uses his 10-inch penis to earn money; he and his Uncle Richie fellate each other at the opening night of The Toilet Bowl; agrees to help Richie with his hare-brained fake kidnapping scheme
  • Ephra Bronstein, first wife of Abe, doesn’t understand people “tinkling” on each other; feels lesbian arousal from Nancellen Rictofen at the opening night of The Toilet Bowl, which they later consummate on Fire Island
  • In flashback: Algonqua Lemish, classic Jewish mother of Fred and Ben; Lester Lemish, mousy, passive father of same; died before novel begins
  • Irving Slough (“sluff”), former psychiatrist and founding partner of Heiserdiener-Thalberg-Slough, 55 and portly; placed ad for buff young man which Dinky answered, though he later becomes jealous of Dinky's attentions; renowned for lavish productions at Fire Island
“If the Outside World is ugly and not many laughs and doesn’t want us anyway, what’s wrong with making our own very special place, with our dancing and drugs and jokes and clothes and music and brotherhood and fucking and our perfectly marvelous taste!”

“You are absolutely right. There is simply nothing that is ugly at Fire Island Pines. The eyes are bathed with constant delights. Uglies and ugliness are simply not tolerated. Go Away! Shoo!”
  • Hans Zoroaster, owns a fine apartment lined with photos of his stable of male models, to which he eventually adds the handsome young Timmy Purvis, thereby triumphing over Randy Dildough
  • Duncan “Winnie” Heinz, green-eyed, hay-haired Winston Man, male model extraordinaire and idol of all American gay men; self-supporting as a collateral heir to the pickle/ketchup fortune
  • Randy Dildough, vice president of Marathon Entertainment; closeted at first, he becomes more public as the book progresses; desperately wants to make Timmy Purvis the next James Dean
  • Timmy Purvis, handsome youth from small-town Maryland, recruited right off the bus at the Port Authority by Paulie and Durwood to be part of R. Allan Pooker’s gay porn empire; gains the attention of everyone at Garfield Toye's final orgy of the season
  • Miss Yootha Truth, starving black man and aspiring singer, and Miss Rollarette, who carries a wand and goes about on roller skates
  • Blaze Sorority, birth name Allan Bloomstein, writes articles for gay newsletter; engages in beer-chugging contest at Fire Island with fellow gay journalist Bella
  • Garfield Toye, gay activist and attorney; hosts the last orgy before everyone leaves for Fire Island for Memorial Day weekend
  • Troy Mommser, creative director at Heiserdiener-Thalberg-Slough; deflowers Timmy Purvis at Garfield Toye’s orgy
  • Dordogna del Dongo, née Jones from Flatbush, middle-aged straight hanger-on of the gay scene; enjoys seducing gay men, including, after great effort, Randy Dildough at Fire Island

Reception[edit]

The book has been influential over the years, though many have criticized Kramer for perceived negativity toward his subject matter. The book was banned in the only gay bookstore in Manhattan.[2] In the advent of the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s, it was discovered that the drug use, multiple partner sex and other behavior condemned in Faggots increased the risk of HIV. Kramer was somewhat redeemed in the gay community.[3]

The gay scholar John Lauritsen commented in his The AIDS War (1993), "The book showed courage and insight. It touched a raw nerve. It was disgusting, and very funny."[4] The historian Martin Duberman writes that "to me, Faggots represented not uncanny clairvoyance but merely Kramer's own garden-variety sex-negativism".[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kramer, Larry (June 1, 2000). Faggots (Paperback ed.). Grove Press. p. 384. ISBN 978-0-8021-3691-6. 
  2. ^ Shilts, Randy (November 2007). And the Band Played on: Politics, People, And the AIDS Epidemic (20th-Anniversary ed.). St. Martin's Griffin. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-312-37463-1. 
  3. ^ Price, Reynolds (4 June 2000). "The Way of All Flesh: Faggots: A Novel By Larry Kramer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  4. ^ Lauritsen, John (1993). The AIDS War: Propaganda, Profiteering and Genocide from the Medical-Industrial Complex. Pagan Press. p. 353. ISBN 0-943742-08-0. 
  5. ^ Duberman, Martin (1996). Midlife Queer: Autobiography of a Decade 1971-1981. The University of Wisconsin Press. p. 20. ISBN 0-299-16024-6. 

External links[edit]