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Monday, June 21, 2021

Acquired Tastes XLIII: Gay Pulp Fiction, Part 55 - P.E.C. French Line Books, 5 of 8

Acquired Tastes XLIII
Gay Pulp Fiction, Part 55
P.E.C. French Line Books, 5 of 8

Today, during our fifth look at PEC (Publishers Export Company) French Line books, we will see yet another shift in the cover designs. This is a rather dramatic shift; suddenly the back covers become the front! I have no other explanation for this, quite frankly, hideous turn of events. You will long for the days of Carl Corley and his ornate, futzy art work. 

This is the second of four distinctive periods in the direction of the imprint's cover art. Note: at this stage, all books still bear the tagline, "The Finest In Adult Reading." and feature their distinctive 'Eiffel Tower' logo. The new design is augmented with a silhouette that can only be described as... blow jobbie. No, look... is that not what you see? 

A brief recap: 

Little is known about the company, for censorship laws at the time made secrecy a necessary component when publishing books of this nature; only the most brazen operators left a paper trail. Operating out of San Diego, CA, the PEC French Line books were published from 1966-1971, though the company itself was active, publishing several imprints starting in (at least) 1965. Although, in 1969, it seems, based on one source I found, they relocated to El Cajon, CA - 21 minutes to the east of San Diego (staying one step in front of the po-po?) (Could be.)

The French Line series includes 101 titles, several of which - I keep having to update this number due to the fact that when I find a 'missing' title - it turns out to be a reissue of a former title - are reissues of previous titles in the series, and ends in 1971 (as, apparently, did the company). 

Also of note, their stable of writers which included Carl Corley, Len Harrington, Vin Saxon/Jay Horn (Ron Haydock), Ed Wood, Jr. and Eve Linkletter. The imprint presented stories about both gay males and lesbians, though it appears that after a certain point they devoted themselves to only gay male content. 

I tracked down what covers I could. Turns out, they reissued more than a few titles in their history, and the second generation covers are not to be found via Google. 

Here are the next dozen covers in the series:

Queer View Of Ted
Author: James Harper

From The Title Page:
"The April sun shone warmly through Ted Harris' window at the Upsilon Sigma Fraternity House on an early spring morning in 1956. Yawning, Ted stretched muscular arms, then lowered his hands to push red, dish-brown curly hair out of his eyes. He sat up on the single bed and thought how greatly the frat house differed from the Army barracks he had never liked...."

Wow. That is a complicated backstory. He was in the military, but now a frat boy? The stuff that gay dreams are made of, I suppose. Why is it not... 'A Queer View Of Ted?' Doesn't that make sense? Why truncate? Was the vowel store short of 'a's  on that day? Enquiring minds want to know. And why 1956? Intriguing? Or just too particular to entertain?

--- ---

Author: Len Harrington

From The Title Page:
"Ollie Fletcher stood in the middle of the dark room, his black naked body glistening with perspiration. Johnny Pinto, worn out from the negro, lay across the bed in exhaustion. The thirty-year-old Ollie, whose thirst seemed unquenchable was far from tired, even after three times with the Italian adonis."

From The Back Cover:
"This black adonis hustled his youth away, just to get even with 'Whitey'."


So, from a politically correct (is that a term people still use?), racial perspective... I am not sure how copacetic - Amos 'N Andy/Mandingo - this book may, or may not be. But here it is. Cover art wise? I am not sure how accurate those pecs are... they seem rather round. But, this must have been a popular title because... well, you'll see in a moment. Hang on... it's coming.

This, by the way, is what the back cover of these books looked like... before the cover art started to change so drastically.

And here is the inside, title page... and maybe I should start referring to those blurbs as 'prologue?'

--- ---

The Greek Touch
Author: Brad Roberts

From The Title Page:
"It's not very often that you find natural privacy like this." Ronnie smiled as his eyes moved over the small cove. The only way to approach it was as they had done by going almost into the water. It was cut off on the other side by sheer cliffs and the sunshine flooded the entire area from above. The smooth, off-white sand sparkled in the morning sun, and Ronnie had an urge to put his signature on the hideaway by leaving a perfect set of footprints across the hot sand. Warren watched him running toward the other side of the small cove, and he laughed, remembering his last time in the cove...."

Interesting sentence structure. That second sentence? Anyhoo. It took me awhile to translate the cover art into a sex position that made any sense. But then I remembered high school... and ? (No, not really, I was much too shy... but I would like to think that I, or one of my buds, would have been so daring.) Though, I must confess... I have one regular fuck bud who loves to 'finish' this way. I keep thinkin he likes to relive his 'first time.' 

--- ---

Fickle And Gay
Author: Alan Fox
"He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me..."

From The Back Cover:
"He loved, or thought he loved. Yet there was always another man, another thirst to quench."

Preaching to the choir! Sigh.

All those guys who pass me over? Maybe I should simply write them off as 'fickle', rather than assume they have good taste? Actually, those of us who have experienced rejection (repeatedly), know the difference - all too well. It's that look in their eyes. Disdain? Revulsion? Indifference? What difference does it make? In the end... they ain't gettin' any of 'this.' And 'this' is pretty damn good... so their loss. Right?

--- ---

Pansy Paradise
Author: Len Harrington

I have always been uncomfortable with the whole pansy=gay thing. I mean, what did that poor flower do to deserve such a distinction? But then, on the flipside - and we are there, thanks to Marsh P., etc. - what did it ever do to be associated with such a wonderful, diverse group of awesome people? Am I right? Did I get that right? 

Still, I bet pansy lovers hired a P.R. firm back in the 1950's and said.. "hey, fix this." 

Good luck with that, huh? 

--- ---

Slave Man
Author: Dan Mathews

From The Front Cover:
"Was I gay or straight? At first it didn't matter. I did it either way because I was Warren's slave. But when the money came rolling in and I began to think about it, I wasn't sure. A man's lips tasted as sweet as a woman's. And the touch of his masculinity electrified me. I fought it at first but it was a a losing battle. I became my own slave."


"I became my own slave" What does that mean? 

And note: the cut off image of this cover. This is the best I could do. I don't think anyone actually wants to be associated with this title.

Oh, and note that price increase. Not only did the back cover (because, face it, that is what it looks like) become the front cover, but they also raised the price a whole 70 cents! So, less art, more profit... is that the move here? I do like the pseudo blow job icon, though. Although, it also could be a costumer taking an actor's measurements... (it happened to me!) (We went on one 'date'. It was weird and so was he.) 

--- ---

The Lonely Boy
Author: Alan Fox

From The Front Cover:
"Don knew a loneliness that could be erased only by the touch of another man. His search was for the treasure society denied but that his body could not refuse. Fooled, used, ravaged, beaten, debased - his torturous journey ended, not when he found Jack... but when Jack found him... not when he found he was in love... but when he found he was loved."

Not when the writer was splitting hairs, but when splitting hairs became the writer. 

I have had my 'loneliness' erased in such a manner many, many, many times. (I could have continued to add many 'many's but - you get the idea.) Actually, I do believe that the year and three months that was Covid-19 may have been the only time period when I was truly 'lonely'. 

Trust me... I have been making up for 'lost time' since. Hee, hee. 

--- ---

The Glory Hole
Author: Daniel Evans

From The Title Page:
"The bedroom was quiet. The ticking of the alarm clock seemed strangely loud. Officer Don Rault wondered if it would keep him awake. His mind was in turmoil. His thoughts would not leave the man he had arrested that evening, but kept returning to him. It was as though something had gone wrong. But he knew that it hadn't. Nothing had been really out of line so far as he could tell. But he kept remembering the haunted look in the old man's eyes and he felt vaguely guilty and uneasy. What had there been about the man's face to cause him so much unrest? "

So, this is a reissue, and they couldn't bring themselves to print the above blurb on the cover. Strange, considering that this blurb telegraphs nothing that one could term explicitly gay. I mean, this could be a book about anything.. except, of course, for that title. But who knows. Maybe there's an evangelical minister or two who are 'reclaiming' that term? Ted? Franklin? Jerry, Jr.? Joel? Anyone? Taking this one on? "Come hither to the light. Come on bended knee... to the glory hole. Enter the glory hole... and come." 

Yeah, bring it on, preacher man. 

--- ---

Gay Swap
Author: Len Harrington

"A fascinating thrilling work, one of the most startling of its type I've read in years, and certainly one of the most realistic... a fine collection of male experiences." - John Forsythe

"A veritable forest of lush, tantalizing male characters - seven in all... so good that I'd blow the author's horn anytime." - Bert Shrader

Oh, so much here. First. Those book endorsements. John Forsythe? THE John Forsythe? Is recommending a gay pulp novel, calling it "the most startling of its type I've read in years?" Really? The future star of Dynasty and the voice of Charlie on Charlie's Angels? He reads gay pulp fiction in his off time? 

If so? Cool. If not...? Odd. Very, very odd. 

As for Bert Shrader? Well, that's a quote from a pseudonym, so I am not sure how much water it holds.

Then there's this coincidence:

Remember this?

Of course I tried to tie the two pseudonyms together to no avail... but, weird coincidence, huh? I would love to get ahold of a copy of each to compare. 

--- ---

The Greek Touch
Author: Brad Roberts
Cover not found.

--- ---

The Prick Of The Picador
Author: Alex Geis

From The Front Cover:
"Carey Warren finally found happiness in Madrid, when he was allowed to share the virility of Spain's most famous matador—Antonio Zarracina. Yet with the ole's of the corrida still ringing in his ears, why did the young Americano allow the fiery banderilleros, greedy picadors, and envious matadors to violate Antonio's trust in him? Those who know where it's at will understand. Even Antonio did. Finally."

Love the line: "Those who know where it's at..."

Bullfighting? So not my thing. Though I do like the costumes (and the men who wear them.) Remember Madonna's on-going obsession with the scene. How many videos? How many concert segments? As for the title of this book? Well, there are pricks, and there are pricks and then, there are real pricks. 

And... again? Note that price increase.

--- ---

Author: Len Harrington
Cover not found.

--- ---

That's for now. We have another 41 covers to take a look at, and then, perhaps, I'll have a book review of one of P.E.C.'s titles to share.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section, you know I love to hear from you. 

And, as always... thanks for reading.

Lonely Boy - Andrew Gold


Mike said...

Great selection of titles and covers! These are such a treat to find, even if the content and the stories don't quite pass muster compare to today's gay novels!

whkattk said...

Wild stuff, to be sure. As Mike ^^^ indicates. Kisses.

Sixpence Notthewiser said...

Those covers are very peculiar!
They used to have more revealing ones at the beginning, when censorship was stronger, no?
And the blurbs are more often than not hilarious. They were supposed to be titillating, right?