Like William Burroughs, Boyd McDonald was what writer William E. Jones calls an “Ivy League fuck-up.” A Harvard graduate who went on to work for Time magazine and IBM, he eventually opted to live in a single-room-occupancy (SRO) hotel in Manhattan and publish a series of chapbooks that collected contributors’ stories about their homosexual experiences. The series was titled Straight to Hell—the title was ironic, as McDonald was gay and, for much of his life, promiscuous. The earliest copy of the chapbook that Jones could find was published in 1973 and the series continued until the ‘90s.
The title Straight to Hell also uses “straight” as a double-entendre—sex with an ostensibly straight guy was the prize, like sex with a beautiful, competed-for woman is the prize for actually straight guys. One reader sent in a photo of some of his high school basketball teammates from the ‘50s, detailing what he did with the guys wearing jersey numbers thirty-one, five and twenty-five.
For one issue, McDonald interviewed a long-haul trucker:
Are there “types”—that is, types of truckers that prefer one kind of sex? Definitely … [Bullhaulers] love to fuck a guy’s hole raw … Tank drivers generally like to suck or get sucked. … Milk runners aren’t usually too good, because they’re mostly local runs and the guys don’t get hot enough, but I’ve met some who are good. The long-distance gasoline drivers are good. They’re the best cocksuckers and love having their cocks gobbled. Produce haulers are usually anal, for some reason…
I know what you’re probably thinking, but Jones makes a strong case that McDonald had no need to fabricate anything. As a whole, True Homosexual Experiences is for the devoted aficionado of gay history. Jones’ writing can frequently be described as academic. (Or maybe I’m just saying that because at length Jones compares McDonald’s work to Menippean satire, and I didn’t know what that was.) But mosaically, the book offers a picture of gay American sexuality in the twentieth century. Though since McDonald was a hermit in his ‘60s when the HIV/AIDS crisis hit, Jones doesn’t have occasion to address the crisis much.
And I should mention that the book features a lot of images of naked guys. (We Heard You Like Books, weheardyoulikebooks.com)