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Wednesday 08 October 2008

Proclamations of the Red Queen

21st August 2008

Cleis Press: Lesbian Pulp Classics

Posted by: Craig Young

While perusing Cleis Press’ excellent online catalogue, I was struck by three fascinating titles about bygone dykes.

March Hastings’ Three Women (1958) is about a lesbian love triangle. Paula marries Phil at eighteen to escape from her ghastly New York tenement life with an alcoholic dad, but falls in love with Byrne, his artist aunt, who lives in Greenwich Village, and is already involved with another woman.

Della Martin’s Twilight Girl (nd) shouldn’t be confused with Paula Christian’s classic lesbian novel of the same name. Lorraine (Lon) is a fifties ‘baby butch’, with a thing about South Pacific, except her version is populated exclusively by women.She falls in love with her English teacher (not gym teacher?), but meets Violet, who introduces her to the lesbian world of fifties Los Angeles.

 ”Contaminated passions” writhe at the 28 Per Cent Club, where swaggering butches and gorgeous femmes compete for each others attentions. Amongst them is Mavis, a gifted black jazz pianist-but also the girlfriend of spoilt brat Sassy Gregg.

Carol Caine’s World of Women deals with Kat, who presides over a ’strange jungle of flesh’ with only women allowed inside. She’s distinctly polygynous- Susan wants commitment, Marg is a tough as nails butch, Gerda is a bisexual swinger alongside her husband Fitz, and then there are the one-night stands.

For any bookshops who want to order these keepsakes of the lesbian past, here are the details:

Cleis Press website: 

March Hastings: Three Women: San Francisco: Cleis Press: ISBN 9781573442459

Della Martin: Twilight Girl: San Francisco: Cleis Press: ISBN 978157344235

Carol Caine: World of Women: San Francisco: Cleis Press: ISBN 9781573442312

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