Created by Lou Rand
Pseudonym of Lou Rand Hogan
“Just for the record…let me do the camping in this act. I’ll make with the gay talk. You just be big and beasty.”
— Frank puts his partner, uh, straight…
FRANK MORLEY, the “fierce but fey” dick of the 1961 Saber paperback original, The Gay Detective, was certainly a little light in the gumshoes. Fortunately, he had his best boy, big, strong ex-marine Tiger, to help him out a jam now and then. The jam he’s in this go-round is babysitting Vivian Holden, a “nymphomaniac on the make.”
Certainly one of the first gay detectives (the title’s a tip-off), the book was set in the Beat-era, and spotlighted the “gay mecca-in-the-making” that was San Francisco at the time. By most accounts, the plot’s pretty solid, and there’s actually a fair bit of humour, though other critics at the time just pegged it as a “campo classic.”
The cover art from the original shows two suited gentlemen, presumably Francis and Tiger, trying to lead a comatose, scantily clad blond down a flight of stairs. The front blurb reads: “Francis and Tiger found out what they needed to know. The Trick now was to get nude Vivian out of the bathhouse and to safety.”
The back cover features a quote from the Bible, Romans 14:14: “I know and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself, but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean to him it is unclean,” and sums up the action as follows:
“Francis Morely is a fierce but fey private eye who uses insider insights to crack a series of gay murders that have baffled Bay City police. Tiger Olsen is a straight, downwardly-mobile former football payer who takes a job as Morely’s sidekick. Seems there’s a camera behind a trick mirror in a notorious bathhouse run by the sinister Joe Cannelli, and a few members of high society who think they’re too powerful to be blackmailed. Will Morley and Olsen have to go under-cover as a gay couple and spend a night in the baths to expose the nefarious scheme? Not if the lovely and mysterious Vivian Holden as anything to say about it! Lou Rand.”
In 1961, this was revolutionary stuff.
The book proved relatively successful, and was released four years later as Rough Trade (“The strangest, most unconventional relationship two men ever shared!”), and over the next thirty years or so, did indeed become something of a camp classic, finally being re-released in 2003 under its original title, with a new introduction by Susan Stryker and Martin Meeker, and of course, a new cover.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lou Rand was the pen-name of Lou Hogan, a San Francisco chef, Gourmet Magazine columnist and pulp fiction writer. As Chef Lou RandHogan, he wrote The Gay Cookbook (1965), a chatty camp classic filled with jokes, in-jokes, out-jokes, innuendo, recipes and digressions large and small. One chili recipe runs on and on for numerous pages and requires about the same number of hours (or possibly days) to make.
- “A fantastically camp romp.”
— Time Out London
- “It’s so flaming you could roast marshmallows over it.”
— Ann Bannon
- The Gay Detective (1961; aka “Rough Trade”) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- What Were Once Vices…
Some notable Gay and Lesbian eyes.
- Down These Mean Streets a Gay Man Must Also Go
An essay by Drewey Wayne Gunn.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.