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‘All Together’ by Dirk Vanden

‘All Together’ by Dirk Vanden

Author: Chuck Forester

December 4, 2011

I wrote ‘The Problem with Gay Porno’ because if I’m going to be aroused by erotica, I need the good story to know what’s going on in a man’s head not just his orifices. As erotica editor of this webpage I celebrated authors who kept my attention by showing me men who revel in the full range of their sexuality and their emotions. I confess, having come out in the Seventies, that I have a penchant for stories that revel in freedom and Dirk Vanden’s characters deal with it daily

All Together is a recently published collection of Dirk Vanden’s stories.  What incredible stories! Published as pulp paperbacks these tales go far beyond the slam, bam of typical porno by introducing us to three men exploring their sexuality and struggling with self image in a culture that despises them.  We have to thank loveyoudivine Altererotica 2011 for pulling this collection together and making it available.

Dirk Vanden’s is a master of capturing time.  The tedium of living out of his car for months in Oregon is just as real as his first party in San Francisco.

Off the kitchen and down a couple of carpeted cement steps was a room which had obviously once been the garage. The walls had been covered with blank vinyl, and there were thick mats on the floor.  They had put opaque Plexiglas over the rafters and hung small colored lights above that; the lights blinked on and off randomly flowing through the Plexiglas giving the room a feeling on constant motion-tipping, expanding, contracting, turning… on the floor, around the outside of the room, there were ashtrays, stacks of towels and open cans of Crisco.  There were stereo speakers hung at each end of the garage-room, and the music coming though them was the weirdest stuff I’d ever heard. (Judd later explained it was “Moog Synthesizers” music –“The wildest trip-music in the world.”)

In an era when gay pornography was pulp paperbacks with lurid stories of dangerous sex that often ended in death, Dirk Vanden went beyond pornography by describing men with huge sexual appetites and very human traumas.

All of my life I had been locked up inside myself, only occasionally peeping out through thick windows at the world and the people around me (and they like myself, peeped back from behind their own window shades and locked doors.).  My parents were the carpenters –along with my brother, my sisters, by teachers, older people, larger people, all of whom told me ‘Do this is it right; Don’t do that; it is wrong.”And I had believed them with the accepting trusting innocence only a child can have – a terrible debilitating innocence, a trusting innocence. “This is A,” they told me.  “This is B.  This is Two; this is Seven; This is right; this is wrong.” And I had believed them. But just now, through the narrow opened door, I had seen possibilities – fleeting indications that that the carpenters could have been wrong themselves. 

All Together is a brilliant description of gay men in the United States of the 60s and 70s.   I recommend this book to anyone interested in our past and what it means to our future. Vanden was smart to write all of it down and make it a fascinating read.  You won’t put it down.


All Together
by Dirk Vanden
loveyoudivine Alterotica
Paperback, 9781600546303, 532pp
August 2011

Chuck Forester photo

About: Chuck Forester

Wisconsin raised, east coast educated, San Francisco resident since 1971 and HIV+ since 1978. Worked for three SF Mayors, early board chair of HRC, and led fundraising campaign for the Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center at the SFPL. Currently a writer of poetry memoirs and fiction; wears T-shirts and jeans.

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