SECOND LETTER TO SUBSCRIBERS -- BEGINNING FRIDAY, MARCH 17, THERE WILL BE A SMALL MONTHLY FEE
(Did You Sleep With the Models?)
Dear Subscribers, Readers, and Occasional Visitors
Some of you have asked, What’s next on Did You Sleep With the Models? The obvious answer is — the rest of the book. Including, of course, more men such as Mickey Squires, Richard Locke (The Daddy of Us All), Al Parker (more is never enough), Jeff Stryker, Scott O’Hara, Casey Donovan, Dick Fisk, Bill Henson.
But that’s only for starters. You have been responsive, loyal, appreciative of my chapters and bonus features and for that reason I want to keep you entertained — and surprised. To do so, I’ve decided to add, in the coming months, features that are somewhat apart from my time as editor of Mandate, Honcho, and Playguy but relevant all the same to gay life, gay interests, and to the interests of my heterosexual readers, of whom there are quite a few. As a crowd pleaser for all orientations, I cite last week’s Gloria Swanson/Vanity Fair bonus, which caused a feeding frenzy.
Expect to see on here a little book I wrote in 1999 titled 201 Things Every Gay Man Should Know About Great Sex. As subscribers, you’ll be able to read all 201 of them — and add your own. Here’s Number 8 as an hors d’oeuvre: “Kiss him as though you were still in high school, and he were the cutest guy in your class.” And 104: “Underwear is important. You'll project a sexier image in sexy underwear. Choose your style and colors as you would choose jeans or a swimsuit, for, like those items, your underwear will be noticed. And when the time comes to take it off, don't rush. Make this revelation last, although not so long that your partner wants to fast-forward.”
My agent and my editor at the time thought this not quite the right tome to follow All About “All About Eve,” which came out in 2000. Perhaps they were right. Times are different now, and I have escaped the grip of governessy agents and what-will-people-think editors. That unpublished book will soon be an exclusive for you — right here on Substack.
I’m eager also for your reaction to my 3,000-word story “OK Troop, Turn Your Head and Cough,” which will be another subscriber exclusive. Younger readers, men and women, may not know that phrase from earlier decades when every man turning eighteen had to register for the military draft. At the physical exam you stood in your underwear with a hundred or so other men as an army doctor pressed your groin to check for hernia. (Did certain medics fight to land that job?) The young gay narrator of my story is drafted in the Army years before you could enlist as an openly gay man or lesbian.
Response to my celebrity bonus features — Al Parker, Kristen Bjorn, Mae West, Joan Fontaine, Bette Davis — has been overwhelming, and for that reason I’ve decided to include not only Mandate interviews but also certain ones that I did for other publications after leaving the magazines. Among these, my interview with the great Jan Morris — travel writer, historian, journalist, novelist, memoirist — and one of the most famous people ever to undergo transgender surgery, a pioneer in 1972 when she left behind her birth identity as James Morris to become Jan.
Also in the interview cavalcade are gay writers David Leavitt, Martin Duberman, Alan Gurganus, bisexual Florence King (she made me laugh so hard that I forgave her for being a Republican). And how about these straight actresses and actors with legions of gay fans — Glenn Close, Zoe Caldwell, Michael Caine, Maureen Stapleton, Geraldine Page? They’re waiting in the wings.
Along with my late friend Pauline Kael, the controversial New Yorker film critic, whom I interviewed for Mandate and also for Publishers Weekly a few years later.
Then, provided I can accomplish the technological transfer from cassette tape to digital transfer, the interview that Joan Rivers did with me. She loved my book on All About Eve, and at the time of publication she had a New York radio show. Joan was extremely cordial to me, but — remember her crack about Celeste Holm back in Bonus Number 7.
Have I convinced you to stick around?
I announced in my Introduction in December 2022 that beginning in March there would be a fee. I wanted to charge less than the Substack minimum of $5.00 per month, $60 for a one-year subscription, but of course I must follow the rules. I intend to make it worth every penny, and if you count a new post every Friday, with four Fridays per month, perhaps I’m a cheap pick-up after all — at $1.25 a throw! (You won’t find a Midnight Cowboy for that.) And frequent bonus chapters as well.
I know that a number of you are writers at various career points: some have published books, others write for newspapers, magazines, and online. Still others are just starting out. Later this year I will reveal secrets about the agents, editors, publicists, and others that I have dealt with in a careet that includes writing books and also writing for magazines. I plan a take-no-prisoners recital. Call it Things I Promised Not to Tell.
When I began posting on Substack in December, I had two subscribers — both supportive friends. As I write this in mid-March, the number of subscribers stands at 279. And that number grows almost daily. Visitors, i.e., those who look at a particular chapter or a bonus feature, almost double the figure. Among the biggest audience pleasers have been the Al Parker Interview, reprinted from Mandate (October 1984); Mae West, the Patron Saint of Gays; Someone’s in the Kitchen with Bette (Davis, of course); and Kristen Bjorn on Both Sides of the Camera.
If you had asked me at the outset for readership demographics, I would have answered, “Gay men over forty.” Implicit in that answer would have been the phrase, “almost entirely.”
I was quite wrong! Although gay men of a certain age continue as my core readership, I’m happy to report that younger men — those in their twenties and thirties — have flocked to my retro chronicle. Many of these read an early excerpt from Did You Sleep With the Models? on Queerty.com, that brash, colorful, sexy, and fun website whose editor, Graham Gremore, plans a second excerpt a few days from now.
Another surprise: some of my strongest supporters are women who like Did You Sleep With the Models? enough to subscribe and recommend it to their friends. I hope to learn more about my demographics and also to become acquainted with many more of my subscribers. In that connection, I urge you to use the Comment button at the end of chapters. I read every one and try always to respond.
Tell me about yourself: who you are, why you’re reading Did You Sleep With the Models?, what you like as well as what interests you less. And, BTW, there’s another book after this one. It has Sodom in the title.