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Finding aid to underground erotic graphics and literature collection Coll2012.180
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Arrangement
  • Historical Note
  • Access
  • Related Archival Material
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Scope and Contents
  • Separated Materials
  • Title Clarification

  • Title: Underground Erotic Graphics and Literature collection
    Identifier/Call Number: Coll2012.180
    Contributing Institution: ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 2.9 linear feet. 2 archival boxes + 1 archival carton
    Date (inclusive): 1940-1980
    Abstract: An artificial collection of unauthored erotic literature and art (graphics) believed to have been created between 1940 and 1980. The theme of these works is almost exclusively homosexual, although there are some rare instances of bisexual and heterosexual encounters with gay overtones. The bulk of this collection consists of photocopied materials, however there some original typesets and original copies of literature and graphics.


    This collection is arranged in the following series:
    Series 1. Private Collections
    Series 2. Individual Graphics and Literature

    Historical Note

    In its current form, gay male erotica is believed to have started about the time of World War II. Thought to be instigated by the homoerotic subtext of groups of young men serving together in uniform, the slight liberalization of sodomy laws, the rise of gay publications, the Kinsey report, and the emergence of gay political groups such as the Mattachine Society, gay erotica began to weave its way into the national culture. Already available from foreign sources, social conservatism in the United States forced authors into the underground. As a result, many erotic short stories and graphics are untraceable back to their original authors.
    In the 1950s, Supreme Court rulings on censorship and the opening up of first amendment rights created a significant shift in authorship and publication of gay erotica from Europe to the United States. More pulp periodicals were being produced and a resultant increase in published erotica was observed. Authors such as Eldon Barnard, Phil Andros, Dirk Vandon, and Richard Amory wrote prolifically and their material could be found in magazines and books available at newsstands. The social stigma associated with this subject matter loosened more in the post-Stonewall era and a litany of authors took advantage of this new found freedom to increase the pornographic content of their material.
    Although the storylines of erotica in this era are extremely diverse, most stories fall into a specific genre. The protagonist is usually young and inexperienced and finds himself subject to the sexual whims of an authoritative male figure such as a policeman, military member, cowboy, or older family member. The young man is unsure of his budding homosexuality and feels assured by the senior figure that their activities are a normal, if not a secretive, part of life.
    Miller, Edmond. (1995). Erotica and Pornography. Essay retrieved from the GLBTQ encyclopedia available online.
    Sheppard, Simon. (2007). Homosex: Sixty Years of Gay Erotica. Carroll and Graf, publishers. New York.


    The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.

    Related Archival Material

    Walker Erotica Collection, 2002-01, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society, San Francisco, California.

    Conditions Governing Use

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Acquisition Information

    Date and method of acquisition unknown.

    Preferred Citation

    Box #, folder #, Explicit Underground Graphics and Literature, Coll2012.180, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

    Processing Information

    This collection was created from various subject files and minor accessions housed at ONE. Collection processed by Erick Hawkins, November 2012.

    Scope and Contents

    The majority of the works consist of text-only erotic short stories believed to be authored between 1940 and 1980. These stories were either grouped with private collections or were singularly maintained. Duplication among private collections or between private collections and individually listed graphics and stories should be expected. Most of the literature and graphics are photocopied from original sources, however some original prints and rewrites are noted where found. Also in this collection are short graphic stories, hand-drawn illustrations, and erotic comics and poems.

    Separated Materials

    Apricot, poetry by Scott Giantvalley. Edition 32/500 of Sean Series III, JO, artwork by Sean.
    Edition 12/500 Sean Series IV, Sean's Gladiators, artwork by Sean.

    Title Clarification

    Stories without titles are listed by the first line of the story and are indicated by quotation marks. Untitled graphics are listed by subject matter.