(Warning: this post is for adults, and the video embedded contains sexual content)
I haven't read Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade yet, but it sure sounds amazing—BB mod Antinous just hipped me to it this morning. The new book by Justin Spring new book chronicles the contents of an archive he discovered in San Francisco a few years ago, including a thousand-page diary belonging to Samuel Steward, a man of many identities....
...including several that the subtitle of the book omits: pioneering sex researcher, collector of celebrity conquests, drug addict, masochist, Catholic (briefly), Navy enlistee (even more briefly), conquistador of vast provinces of America's pre-Stonewall homosexual subculture. Most fortuitously, he was apparently a graphomaniac who documented his long, dark, exuberant, sad, dangerous life in journals, an unpublished memoir, reams of letters, poems, erotica, semifictionalized short stories and even a 746-entry card catalog of his sexual history, scrupulously maintained over five decades and in some cases ornamented -- perhaps for future biographers? -- with what Spring decorously calls "DNA-verifiable" evidence of his liaisons.That, from the New York Times review (which ran with a terrific title).
All told, Steward is reported to have had sex with 807 different people, a total of 4,647 times, including Rock Hudson and Rudolph Valentino. Regarding those impressive numbers, Adam at Butt Magazine opines,
However, the true value of his promiscuity lies not in the number of loads blown, but in what those loads can teach us. (...)Video trailer for the book follows (contains sexual content.)
At times he was Samuel Steward, drunken professor, obscure literary figure and pen pal to the stars. He was also an author, first of serious fiction - Angels on the Bough - and later acclaimed memoirs - Dear Sammy: Letters From Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. George Platt Lynes, Alfred Kinsey and Tom of Finland all counted him as a friend. As a tattoo artist he went by Phil Sparrow. He mentored Ed Hardy and inked the Hells Angels. He even engraved 'LUCIFER' on Kenneth Anger's chest. In his dirty work he was the ripped Greek hustler Phil Andros. This particular alter ego dealt in filthy stories, pumping out titles like Shuttlecock and $tud, and attracting the attention of literary heavyweights like Christopher Isherwood.He was all of these things and more. Mr. Steward was also a sex researcher and self-proclaimed whore. Perhaps his most important occupation, however, was that of historian. For in the cache of his remaining belongings exists an individual history unparalleled in its meticulousness.
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: firstname.lastname@example.org.