About The Book
In this angry, eloquent outcry against the oppression of homosexuals, the author of the classic City of Night gives an explosive “non-fiction account, with commentaries, of three days and nights in the sexual underground” of Los Angeles in the 1970s–the “battlefield” of the sexual outlaw. Using the language and techniques of film, Rechy deftly intercuts the despairing, joyful, and defiant confessions of a male hustler with the “chorus’ of his own subversive reflections on sexual identity and sexual politics, and with stark documentary reports of the violence our society directs against homosexuals–”the only minority against whose existence there are laws.”
1.07 A.M. The Apartment The Gym.
HE PREPARES his body for the hunt. A dancer at the bar. A boxer in the ring. Prepares ritualistically for the next three days of outlaw sex. The arena will be streets, parks, alleys, tunnels, garages, movie arcades, bathhouses, beaches, movie backrows, tree-sheltered avenues, late-night orgy rooms, dark yards.
The city is Los Angeles.
Beyond the window of his apartment, yellow-green palmtrees stand aloofly. Later they will watch distantly as he prowls through the floating sexual underground.
He is stripped to sweat-faded cutoffs. His pectorals are already pumped from repetitions of dumbbell presses on a bench, inclined, flat, then declined; engorged further by dumbbell flyes extending the chest muscles into the sweeping spread below the collar. His “lats’–congested from set after set of chin-ups–slow, fast, wide-grip, medium-grip, weights strapped about his waist for added resistance that will allow him to do only half-chins as the muscles protest-flare from armpits to mid-torso. His legs are rigid from squats held tense at half-point.
Round, full, his arms are hard, hard from sets of curls, the dumbbell an appendage of strength and power in his hands. The horseshoe indention at his triceps is engraved sharply by repetitions of barbell extensions.
Now the barbell–chrome, red-collared–rests at his feet. Dark weights are balanced harmoniously on each side of the bar. He bends over, jerking the bar widely in one move to his shoulders, and barely pausing, lifts it over his head and lowers it behind his neck. The deltoid muscles waken in welcome shock. One repetition, another, and another. Eight. Nine. Ten. He reverses the motions, places the bar at his feet. Breathing deeply, he moves away from the bar for thirty seconds only. Sweat coats his body like oil and stains the cutoffs at his groin. Deliberately he avoids the mirror on the wall. That crucial encounter comes only at the last.
He does another set of standing presses with the loaded barbell, heavier now with added dark round plates. Seven sets in all, decreasing repetitions, adding weight each set.
He lies on the bench, declined, his feet strapped at the ankles with a belt at the upper end. He raises his torso only a few precious inches, hands at his back, crunching the abdominal muscles until the ridges ache. Seventy-five repetitions. His stomach demands to stop. Twenty-five more. Muscles strain against the flesh. Twenty-five more.
He jumps off the bench. He’s panting, his body is electric.
He looks down at the loaded barbell. He will attempt one more press. He adds plates to each side. He raises the bar to his shoulders, begins to lift it over his head. Muscles protesting, the weight pauses midway. His will insists. He challenges the moment’s stasis.
Breathing orgasmically, he exhales and with a thrust of his hips he raises the bar over his head.
Now in its mysterious rite of destruction and construction, the body is rushing fresh blood to pulsing muscles, making them stronger and bigger, preparing them for the next, heavier onslaught, the next steel workout. Tomorrow his muscles will be larger than today.
He stands before the mirror. His cock strains against the sweat-bleached cutoffs.
1:04 P.M. Santa Monica. The Beach.
He parked his car in the lot near the crumbling pier. Here, tribal crowds thin into exile territory. Near a squat, short restroom, men on towels watch new arrivals to the beach.
As he walks on the hot sand, he carries a beach mat and a thermos full of protein to feed his muscles throughout the day. He’s wearing his workout trunks over a very brief bikini which snaps at the sides. His already copper tan is rendered deeper by a film of oil. From behind blue-tinted sunglasses, he surveys those gathered here, intercepts looks–but he moves along the sand toward the ocean. Like the day and the sky, the ocean is blue and magical.
At the edge of the beach, huge, rough rocks separate this portion from another. He climbs over them, toward the fire-gutted skeleton of a pier. Decaying boards slant toward the sand. The beach extends in a lapping tongue; men lie singly in that parabola of sand–the more committed in brief bikinis, or almost naked–genitals sheltered only by bunched trunks.
Locating his beach mat, Jim strips to the white bikini; he pushes it up even farther on his thighs. He drinks from the thermos of protein. Now he stretches on the sand, eyes closed, aware of prowling figures rehearsing for the balletic cruising already commencing mutely under the shadowy pier.
Not yet. For him, not yet.
Jim–he calls himself mat sometimes, sometimes Jerry, sometimes John–removes the bikini, lies boldly naked on the sand. Because of a mixture of Anglo and Latin bloods, his skin quickly converts the sun’s rays into tan; the tan turns his eyes bluer; long-lashed eyes which almost compromise the rugged good looks of his face, framed by dark hair. The sun licks the sweat from his body.
As he lies passive to the sun’s indifferent love, he imagines how his body looks to others: naked, tanned, hairs gleaming, muscles sequined with sweat on oil”.
He wakes abruptly. A youngman is squatting next to him, hand sliding along Jim’s muscled body toward the hardening cock.
A few yards away, an old fisherman, his wife huddled on the shore like ragged flotsam beside him, throws his line into the restive ocean.
2:25 P.M. The Pier.
Jim twisted his body away from the youngman’s spidery touch. Not yet. He wanted more sun; he lay longer like a sacrificial warrior surrendering to it.
Now he’s ready. He drinks again from the thermos. He puts on the sweat-faded cutoffs, leaving the bikini, his sunglasses, the thermos, and the beach mat in a secluded place. He looks at the gutted pier.
Years ago it supported a carnival street, brazen in its garish tackiness, a discord of colors and “architecture” waning furiously. Tattoo parlors with butterflies, hearts, nude women; arcades lighting up neon pinball mazes; imitation-foreign restaurants with patchwork faces. Then came the rock groups and their followers, the flowers in their hair soon to wilt; summer radicals drove out old sailors and derelicts. Inevitably the dinosauric demolition machines came crushing everything into dust. The shells of buildings remained, as if the pier had been bombed. Then came fire. And another fire. The pier became a blackened skeleton. Below it, a subterranean world thrived among falling posts and dank sand.
A gladiator, Jim stares at the arena under the pier. The sunlight stops sharply at the mouth of the rotting wooden cavern. An invisible boundary observed by the light. Beyond the twilight opening, the mouth darkens deeply.
As he moves into the periphery of the dusky cavern, he’s aware of his bare feet touching the hot sand. He pauses, to feel the texture of the grains of crushed white earth. At first there is the heat of the sand, where the sun has scorched for hours. Just at the moment that he would have moved to break the sensation of heat, his feet sink below the surface. He looks down. Among the pale grains, some gleam in glassy pinpoints. The sand forms mounds. As his feet move barely, feeling the surface heat again but not as intense, the sand forms new curves, almost pinnacles. Rushing grains slide down to fill new hollows. He sees shapes of vague geometry. He looks a few feet away and sees a series of ripples in the sand. A choppy breeze chose this one area to carve. Only a few inches away, the beach is moist where the retreating tide clung farthest. There, the sand looks brown. He sees the undecipherable message the scratchy footprints of a bird have left. He walks toward the moist parabola. Only his toes touch the moist section. His heels remain on the hot dry beach. He’s aware–but the perception is not as clear as he anticipated–of the dual sensation. He stands there for moments. Then he buries his feet deliberately in the moisture. He feels the cool grains of sand sliding, surrounding. He takes a few more steps and looks back at his footprints molded parallel to the scratchings of the bird. He inhales the odor of water and sand and seaweeds and the moisture clinging to the sunless rotting pier. He presses one foot, to etch a deeper footprint on the wet sand. Then he moves on.
Under the pier, the sand is moist. He passes from day to twilight to night in moments. In this darkness only violence or sex can happen. An experienced hunter, Jim knows that although he sees no one yet in the murky mist–and his eyes are adjusting quickly–soon, very soon, figures will emerge. Shadows within shadows.
For moments, he stands in the twilit area; exhibiting his body, making sure, as always, that he is clearly seen.
Look. There’s a black solitary outline in the depths of the pier. Jim moves farther into the shadowed world. The sand, untouched by the sun, becomes wetter. His eyes adjust totally.
Beyond, the tide rises. Swoosh! Swoosh. Swoosh! Swoosh. Sounds echoing in the dark. Through slits left exposed by boards fallen in diagonal patterns on the sand, shafts of light penetrate like cold knives.
Jim moves fully into exile country. Just as he knew, there are many other outlaws here. At least six shadows materialize into bodies as they glide closer like hypnotized birds. Against a pole, two men are pasted to each other. Muted sighs and moans blend with the lapping sound of the ocean beyond.
Knowing that a loose circle of ghostly figures is focusing on him as he stands in a pocket of dim light, Jim pulls out his cock as if to piss. Quickly, a tall slender young outlaw holds Jim’s cock. Almost as quickly, a short, tightly sculpted, goodlooking youngman, completely naked, trunks in his hand, is licking Jim’s sweaty chest. The moist tongue slides down Jim’s stomach, encloses the cock still held by the tall one. For seconds only, Jim inches farther into the dim-lit cave within the darker cave, so that his gleaming body being adored will be visible like a pornographic photograph.
Moving back into the shadows, Jim reaches down and grasps the blood-flushed cock of the youngman sucking him. It feels like an extension of his own. Now both Jim and the naked youngman stand, cocks pressed together in one thick shaft, which the tall one sucks.
Other shadows cluster, watching, forming other intimate groups nearby. The tall youngman licks Jim’s balls, the tongue explores his buttocks. Swiftly turning his body around, torso bending forward, back to Jim, the naked youngman parts his own buttocks, inviting Jim’s full cock to enter the waiting asshole. With his finger, Jim feels the tiny knot of flesh, locating the entry for his cock. The tall man thrusts his tongue into the crack of Jim’s buttocks. The naked youngman reaches back, guiding Jim’s cock into the saliva-moistened ass.
But now Jim’s not sure he wants to fuck. A switch has been touched, loosing an electric sexuality; he does not want to end the scene with orgasm–not yet; his flexing muscles are riding on the kinetic motion of the earlier workout; he will require much more than these moments’ sextime.
But the firm round ass grinds, insisting. Jim lets his erect cock touch the puckered point of entry, and then slide up against the crack, mixed sweat lubricating cock, ass, pubic hair. The tall youngman slides on the sand between Jim’s arched legs and licks his balls. With one hand Jim grasps the slender waist of the naked youngman, with the other he holds the other’s round cock about to burst.
Clustered throughout under the crumbling boards in the water-decayed cavern, other outlaw torsos shine darkly in the mottled light. The sound of sucking, of sliding flesh. Sighs. Sounds of orgasm float through the darkness.
Two more outlines have materialized about Jim–he feels more mouths. His mind explodes with outlaw images: men and men and men, forbidden contacts, free, time crushed, intimate forbidden strangers.
Sensations increase, a tongue slides over his balls, another on his ass, his cock still only simulating entry into the anxious asshole. And now his lips are on those of a beautiful youngman suddenly beside him, and in one swift thrust Jim’s cock enters the grinding ass, and his hand holds the squirting cock of the naked youngman he’s fucking.
Male and male and male, hard limbs, hard cocks, hard muscles, hard stomachs, strong bodies, male and male.
Jim is close to coming. His hand is sticky with the cum of the naked youngman he’s still fucking, and he rubs the moist cum on the face of the tall man licking his balls, and Jim and the beautiful youngman continue to kiss.
Jim breaks away from the bodies.
Again in the shaft of light, he adjusts his trunks. Carefully avoiding the broken boards, the rusted nails, he moves toward the sun. Into the bright beach.
He returns to his beach mat, again he drinks from the thermos of protein.
Removing his trunks, he walks naked into the ocean’s tide, letting the water wash his body.
The old fisherman and his ragged wife continue obliviously staring toward the horizon vanishing in the rising mist.
Clothes adjusted now–the warm sun evaporating the moisture on his body–blue-tinged sunglasses covering his eyes again, beach mat rolled, thermos under one arm, Jim looks at the dark shell of crumbling pier. Nothing seems to move there, no sound comes from it.
A youngman emerges from out of the scorched darkness. He and Jim glance at each other in recognition. Is that the youngman he fucked or the one he kissed?
They walk away in opposite directions.