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Monday, May 17, 2021

Acquired Tastes XLIII: Gay Pulp Fiction, Part 50 - Gay Vampire by Davy S.

Acquired Tastes XLIII: Gay Pulp Fiction, Part 50
Gay Vampire by Davy S.

I read this. I actually did. It is one of the strangest books I have ever read (and I've read a lot of Kurt Vonnegut.)

Today we take a look at Gay Vampire by Davy S. Published in 1968 by 101 Enterprises as #42 of their series of 48 gay pulp novels, it is now available as a download on Amazon, thanks to Maitland McDonagh and her imprint, 120 Days Books. 

This from Good Reads:
"Vampire enthusiasts of all stripes will appreciate the charms of Barnabas C. Dracula, the sharp-toothed, romantic hero of Gay Vampire. But fans of the vintage horror soap-opera Dark Shadows will feel a special frisson when reading the scene in which he's released from a lonely crypt by lonely, teenaged oil-company heir Davy Swanson, an explicit call back to a mid-'70s episode of the groundbreaking supernatural series. The novel's Barnabas and Davy travel a rough road—one paved with scheming relatives, cruel twists of fate, epic miscommunication and a pack of sex-hungry wolves with designs on Davy's tender flesh—but true love, even with a vampire, is a powerful thing."

I am not sure what book this person read, but, believe me, it could not possibly have been Gay Vampire by Davy S.

The writer makes it sound like its a precursor to The Twilight Series. It is so not! The Twilight Series reads like War and Peace in comparison to the writing chops on display in Gay Vampire.

Actually, as I traced it back, those are the words of Maitland McDonagh, editor and founder of 120 Books, the publishing company that began to re-publish vintage gay pulp novels. Her hyperbole, unwarranted, is understandable - she's in the business to sell books. 

In reality, Gay Vampire is a poorly written, unintentionally funny, nightmare of a book, cobbled together from the ideas for three separate novels that all show a promise that is never delivered. 

For me, one of the primary issues with the novel is that the main character's name is 'Davy'. (The book's authorship is credited to a 'Davy S.', so does that make this tome autobiographical in nature? Let's hope not!)

Now, I don't know about you, but the only 'Davy' I've ever known is the one featured in that weird 1960's Sunday morning, clay-animated staple, 'Davy and Goliath'. Stranded in a mythical 1950's era reality, each Sunday kids were treated to the adventures of empty-headed Davy and his talking dog, Goliath; moral conundrums where The Bible (which?) held the answer as to the right thing to do. The clay-animation was stiff and as rigid as the dialogue voiced by people who had no idea how children actually speak. 

Sadly, the quality of the dialogue in Gay Vampire follows suit, and since our protagonist happens to be rather pint-sized, the image, delivery and voice of the clay-animated Davy colored my perception of this book. 

The first third of the novel concentrates on a terribly privileged, unlikable young man as he navigates life in his hometown. Davy loves his "pretty yellow convertible", while absolutely no one at school likes him (and as you read the book, you'll understand why.) The boys all call him a "sissy" and the girls call him "a cuddly toy"(?), that is, when they are not calling him an "oddball".  

Yes, at 5'3", young Davy has a hard time having the world take him seriously. Black-haired with blue eyes, he spends a lot of time talking to himself, sometimes looking in the mirror and determining that, yes, he is "good-looking". 

His mother passed away when Davy was young, and his father, a generically-busy business man, has no time for him; hence the gift of the "pretty yellow convertible." 

He once asked a girl out and she laughed in his face. It seems the only girl who flirts with Davy is Carolyn, the town whore. This sets up a precedent for the remainder of the novel. As with many such novels of its ilk, a kind of gay misogyny is prominently displayed throughout Gay Vampire; all women are, or have the potential to become, utter harpies. Not that women figure prominently in Davy's world. For, while Davy pays lip service to the idea of having a girlfriend, it is really football jock Fred who holds the strings of his heart. 

Davy lives in a Leave It To Beaver house with his chronically absent father and his sister, Dianne, who is engaged to be married to a two-faced creep named Bill. Bill is all Wally Cleaver when in the presence of his fiancé, but the moment her back is turned he's all Eddie Haskell, up in Davy's grill. Menacing and predatory, you just know that there's some real crazy at work in Bill's noggin. 

The next day, Davy is woken by the ringing of the doorbell. Answering it dressed only in his pajamas (big mistake) in storms the aforementioned town whore, Carolyn, with but one thing on her mind; she's there to take Davy's cherry. In what amounts to be one of the oddest, ugliest seduction scenes I have ever read, Carolyn begins by complimenting Davy, and when that doesn't work, reveals her true slut self before going all in and basically sexually assaulting the boy. 

When that fails, she moves to the oldest ploy in the book... a good old fashioned 'sissy' goading. Oddly (or not, considering the times), that does the trick and Davy, who has to struggle not vomit throughout, gives Carolyn the rough railing she came for. 

Now, if you're expecting a detailed description of actual sex acts, you will need to look elsewhere. In Gay Vampire, sex does happen, but only in the vaguest of terms; we don't really have any idea what Davy physically does to Carolyn - such specifics are either glossed over with euphemisms or omitted - only that sex is occurring. 

Seemingly satisfied, having gotten what she came for, Carolyn, the slut, leaves (never to be seen or heard from again.) We are then treated to 'the shame shower' scene - you know, the one where they don't make water hot enough to remove the stench of sex off your body? Yes, Davy has himself a good, self-pitying cry, concluding "I'm certainly not ugly... in fact, I'm really beautiful." It brings to mind images of the demented prom queen who, after being gang banged on the 50 yard line by the football team, stands in front of her bathroom mirror applying way too much bright red lipstick, drawing way over the lip line while saying aloud, "But I'm a pretty, girl, ain't I? A pretty, pretty girl. Ain't that right, Momma? Who's a pretty, pretty girl? Me, Momma. Me..."

But then, in the very next paragraph, Davy is giggling, taken by how conceited he is allowed to be thanks to his very privileged world. 

With his sister out of town, Davy decides to go tool about in his "pretty yellow convertible". This introduces what could have been a second novel. He drives until he finds a lake he's never seen before. There, he is approached by an old man named Jake Summers, who dutifully speaks in old-timey country like language. The two talk about many things, in fact, throughout the book, Davy seems to be willing to engage in rather intimate conversation with anybody at the drop of a hat. Apparently 'Stranger Danger' is not part of the curriculum at his high school. 

The old man warns Davy not to play around Sacred Heaven Cemetery, "for there lies the devil" (guess who?) Davy presses for more details, but the old man demurs, instead offering up nebulous bits of advice which Davy interprets as Jake possessing intimate knowledge about his personal life. And then, just as he appeared from out of nowhere, Jake vanishes. 

Davy gets home and discovers that his sister and Bill have returned from visiting Bill's gravely ill mother. The pair announce that they are getting married... next weekend. Davy doesn't react well, despite assurances from his sister that they will all live together and that he will be taken care of. 

At school the next day, Davy meets a new boy who takes a sudden, keen interest in our young protagonist. This 'interest' comes in the form of the boy, whose name we later learn is Jerry, retrieving Davy's pencil from the floor. 

The next day Jerry and Davy get to know all about one another and, at lunchtime, go to have "hamburgers and cokes." It  turns out, Jerry, who also traffics in old-timey country jargon, once lived on a farm. And he knows all about 'old man Summers', who - hit me with a sack of buttermilk pancakes - just happens to be Jerry's uncle! 

There's a story about an oil rig that never struck oil disappearing in a into the lake. Oh, and Jake Summers? Oh, yeah, he's been dead for years!  Yes, turns out our Davy talks to ghosts. As the conversation winds down, Jerry places a hand on Davy's knee (and you all know what THAT means! Except, it doesn't, not in Gay Vampire.)

For some strange, inexplicable reason, this conversation about ghosts causes Davy to buckle down and play sports with more vigor in order to be like the rest of the boys. We know this, because the author tells us so, spending a single paragraph transitioning back to the small town/ high school novel the reader initially thought they would be enjoying. 

After giving it his all, Davy hits the locker room intending to shower. (By the way, Davy takes a lot of showers throughout this book, especially at home or whenever emotionally confronted or conflicted.) He waits until all the other boys are through, but town bully, Butch Hutton and his crew are on to him and catch a naked Davy off guard. Davy goes into 'sissy' mode while Butch and his henchmen focus on Davy's backside, which is "prettier than any girl's." Apparently cornholing is not a boy-only thing in this small town. 

After smacking that ass a few times, the bullies turn their attention to Davy's 'honker.' One of the henchmen grabs Davy's dick, mockingly saying, "Mama doesn't want the rough boys playing with Davy's thing." This, of course sets up the potential for a gang rape scene, but since our author, Davy S. has no intention of actually writing about sex acts, Davy is conveniently rescued by Footballer Fred, the object of Davy's erections, er, affections. 

The physically intimidating Fred quickly dispatches our group of boy-rape-hungry tormenters and he and Davy take a shower together, where naked Davy cries in the arms of naked Football Fred. After inexplicably professing their love for one another, they kiss and part ways. (So, again... no sex.)

Davy falls more in love with Fred throughout the week, even though the two never spend any time together. As the weekend of his sister's wedding approaches, Davy, who has no plans on attending, decides he wants to spend the weekend with Football Fred. Unfortunately, via a phone call which the author describes in one sentence, we learn will be out of town all weekend - which is where Football Fred apparently remains for the rest of the book, since he, like that slut Carolyn before him, is never heard from or mentioned again. 

So, Davy opts instead to go off in search of Jake Summers - the old-timey ghost. 

This all happens in Chapter I. All of it. The one nice thing about this book? It's a fast read... like ripping a band-aid off rather than removing it with care. 

So, now we are back to novel number two: the ghost story. Davy heads back out to Crater Hill, (because, now that place has an actual name.) and into the woods in search of Jake's former homestead.  But the forest is dense and 'sissy' Davy, who is armed with only a flashlight, decides to come back another time with Jerry in tow. Instead, he goes back to his "pretty yellow convertible" to drive around to the other side of the forest to find out if he can see Jake's old house from that vantage point. 

Unfortunately, Davy blows a tire! This leads to lots of talking to himself. He stumbles on a cow and concludes that there must be a farmhouse nearby, so, with an oddly convenient thunderstorm threatening above, off our little hero goes in search of help. A "gruff-looking" man opens the door to said farmhouse and is immediately suspicious of Davy. He's invited inside and Davy (because they do not teach 'Stranger Danger' at his high school) dutifully steps inside, where, of course, there is no phone, but there are three other equally gruff-looking men packing bottles(?) of dope into a box. 

So, we learn the following: 1/ 'dope' comes in bottles. And, 2/ It takes three men to pack bottles of dope in a box. 

One of the men drops a bottle of dope and it  conveniently rolls over, landing at Davy's feet. Davy immediately recognizes that the bottle contains heroin. Yes, it seems, while Davy's high school does not teach 'Stranger Danger', they do, apparently hold a very detailed Drug Awareness Week, because Davy knows a bottle of heroin when it rolls and conveniently stops at his feet. 

So, the gruff-looking man, who answered the door and invited Davy in, announces aloud, "so now we'll have to do away with you." One of the men grabs Davy, calling him "pretty boy", and you pretty much think the author has set up a second gang bang rape scenario, but no, because just like the one that takes place in the high school locker room, someone comes to the rescue before anything remotely sexual takes place. Who? 

Why Jake the old-timey ghost, of course. 

Jake the Ghost unties Davy and leads him into the woods to hide. Of course our crew of bottled heroin box packers (do they have a union?) are in hot pursuit, but Davy manages to stumble upon - gasp - Sacred Heaven Cemetery (which he knows because there is a sign above the gate telling him - and the reader - so.) Yes, the one place Jake the Ghost told Davy to avoid! 

To escape detection, Davy slips into a "building", which turns out to be a mausoleum. He watches through the windows(?) as the crooks continue their search for him. Yes, Davy was able to find this mausoleum with windows quite easily, but the crooks? Not a chance.

The crooks (and any potential for a possible gang bang rape) disappear into the night. Davy spends the night in the mausoleum. The next morning, as Davy searches for a way out - because going out the way he came in doesn't seem to be an option(?) - he stumbles on a gold coffin conveniently (yeah, I know, I have to stop using that word) inscribed with the name 'Barnabas C. Dracula.' The coffin is wrapped in rusted chains, which, inexplicably, Davy takes upon himself to remove - because THAT'S Davy! Always doing the one thing that makes no sense.

Ghost Jake tries to stop Davy, but to no avail. Then he, like the crooks (once they are taken care of by Barnabas) and Hunky Jerry, join Footballer Fred and That Slut Carolyn in literary limbo. 

All this lead us to the introduction of our third novel in this miniseries. 

So, let's take score.. 

Novel I: Gay, privileged high school kid in small hick town dealing with butt-raping bullies, aggressive harlots and hunky Football Fred.

Novel II: Mystery of the disappearing oil rig featuring a potentially-rape-y crew of bottled heroin box packers, old-timey Jake the Ghost, and hunky ex-farmboy Jerry.

Novel III: Barnabas C. Dracula (subtle) who resides in a mystical castle, his powder-puff queen, Ken (Renfield), and a valet named Tony.

Barnabas and Davy become instant lovers. They decide to go live with his Aunt Nora in California, because she is more understanding. It doesn't take Davy long before he's hopping in cars with strangers, which is how we are introduced to Kenny (Renfield), who, in order to cheer Barnabas up at one point, gives him a castle by the sea - because people own castles by the sea which they feel like giving away for no reason. 

And this is where I leave you. 

You want to know how it all ties together and ends? Buy the book. It's kind of worth it. I mean this? This is gay history. And fascinating. 

I will tell you this: Davy's ever-absent father dies suddenly, (introducing fodder for the completion of Novel I), leaving what turns out to be a family fortune, all left in the hands of a 17 year-old because Dianne is a girl and girls don't know nothin' 'bout runnin' no business. This eventually leads to (yes, finally), an actual gang-bang rape scene. (So, yes, in the end - so to speak - Davy S. delivers.) 

Everything is introduced very abruptly and handled with in a matter of a few paragraphs. Characters that make little sense (there's a motorcycle-riding hoodlum, a state trooper, a truck driver, and a valet named Tony) are introduced and disposed of quickly. In parts? It leaps so far the reader ends up with a case of literary whiplash. 

And the sex? Given that the reason one would buy such a book is to get off, well, Davy S. spends most of the book tip-toeing his way around sex. Buttholes are 'dark targets' and "tender opening(s)". 

Sweet? Perhaps. Hot? Titillating, but not enough to get the job started or done.

Could this have been a better book? Yes. The story elements (as I've outlined them here), they work. And, more importantly, they could work together with a bit more fleshing out. The failing here is length. This is a ton of plot and very little writing. As novels go, this is more like a fleshed out outline; there is very little character development and one of the three story arcs ends up abandoned, going nowhere, while the one with Barnabas is hardly the centerpiece one might  have expected, given the book's title. 

Also, when crossover exists between the three storylines, very little is tied together, such as: what does Jake the Ghost have to do with Barnabas? We never learn. It's never explored or explained. 

Whomever Davy S. is, he lucked out. He got this barely finished novel published. Maybe the publisher was desperate for product? Maybe the bar was simply really low at 101 Enterprises. Whatever the reason, I, for one, am happy that Maitland McDonagh and 120 Days Books have made this readily available and that I read it. It's a lark and a slice of history - one that goes down faster than its little protagonist Davy in the front seat of a stranger's car.  

From 120 Days Books:
"Gay Vampire with Vampire's Kiss: two tales of the undead filtered through the prism of '70s adults-only pulp novels, are now available on Amazon. The second two-in-one edition of vintage gay genre novels from 120 Days Books, Vampire's Kiss and Gay Vampire toy playfully with the idea of vampirism as a metaphor for homosexuality, minus the specter of sinister corruption that could easily lend them the ugly hint of self loathing that taints many gay-oriented adult novels of this period. Instead, both novels come down clearly on the side of vive la différence."

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That's it for today. I hope you enjoyed this little review. 

Next week, we will be taking a look at PEC/French Line's offerings. 

Until then... thanks for reading.

Little Red Corvette - Prince 

Get In My Car - Echosmith


Sixpence Notthewiser said...

I'll stay with your account of the novel, thank you very much. It seems to me that your version will always be better than the three books put together and never completed that Davy S tried to pass as pulp fiction.
Meanwhile I'm gonna try and find someone who gives ME a castle by the sea. And a little red Corvette.
Love Prince.


whkattk said...

LOL. Satire? Spoof? Inspired by? All three? Or none of the above? Kisses.

Jimmy said...

Rape scenes are like car slow down to see what you don't want to see.

Deliciousdeity said...

'God see everything you do, Davey!' Yiii. What a pot boiler!

Xersex said...

love the pics!