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Vulgar Genres

Gay Pornographic Writing and Contemporary Fiction

Vulgar Genres

Gay Pornographic Writing and Contemporary Fiction

Vulgar Genres examines gay pornographic writing, showing how literary fiction was both informed by pornography and amounts to a commentary on the genre’s relation to queer male erotic life.

Long fixated on visual forms, the field of porn studies is overdue for a book-length study of gay pornographic writing. Steven Ruszczycky delivers with an impressively researched work on the ways gay pornographic writing emerged as a distinct genre in the 1960s and went on to shape queer male subjectivity well into the new millennium.

​Ranging over four decades, Ruszczycky draws on a large archive of pulp novels and short fiction, lifestyle magazines and journals, reviews, editorial statements, and correspondence. He puts these materials in conversation with works by a number of contemporary writers, including William Carney, Dennis Cooper, Samuel Delany, John Rechy, and Matthew Stadler. While focused on the years 1966 to 2005, Vulgar Genres reveals that the history of gay pornographic writing during this period informs much of what has happened online over the past twenty years, from cruising to the production of digital pornographic texts. The result is a milestone in porn studies and an important contribution to the history of gay life.

216 pages | 8 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2021

Gay and Lesbian Studies

Literature and Literary Criticism: American and Canadian Literature


“Ruszczycky analyzes gay pornography’s penetration of popular culture and high culture since the 1960s, and its enduring impact on gay sexual fantasies and practices. Comprehensively unfolding—and bravely affirming—that impact’s most unredeemable ‘vulgar’ expressions, Ruszczycky thoughtfully details sensational gay visions of leathermen, hot cops, AIDS-era ‘sleazehounds,’ intergenerational sex, and ‘boys’ who become ‘pigs.’ Vulgar Genres is a major contribution to gay literary and social history, and to cultural studies in general.”

Robert L. Caserio, Pennsylvania State University

“Vulgar only in the best possible sense, and by no means generic in its analytic sharpness, Ruszczycky’s Vulgar Genres gives us a vitally important account of how gay pornographic writing—though largely ignored in the scholarship of queer literary history and of porn studies— facilitated, enriched, and helped make possible both contemporary gay literary fiction and lively gay counterpublics in the late twentieth century.”

Darieck Scott, University of California, Berkeley

Table of Contents

List of Figures
Chapter 1 William Carney and the Leathermen: Revaluing BDSM in the Pornographic Counterpublics of the 1970s
Chapter 2 Police Cruisers: John Rechy and Samuel Steward Take on the Hot Cop
Chapter 3 Samuel Delany, Scott O’Hara, and the Counterpublic of Sleazehounds: On the Risks of Public Sex in AIDS-Era Pornography
Chapter 4 Boy Problems: Boyd McDonald’s Straight to Hell, Matthew Stadler’s Allan Stein, and the Becoming Historical of Intergenerational Intimacy
Conclusion Going Online: Dennis Cooper and the Piglets

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