THE SIXTH ACOLYTE READER
The Sixth Acolyte Reader was published by the Acolyte Press, a publisher in Amsterdam dedicated to “boy-love” publications, in October 1991. It is the tenth in a series of sixteen anthologies. The stories are by various authors, but all the volumes were edited by the American writer Frank Torey (1928-96). This article serves as both a synopsis and a review of the volume’s content. The original list of contents is represented in brown.
There is no introduction to these stories, either general or individual, but information on the authors, given at the beginning of each story in some earlier volumes in the series, is given in “Notes on the Authors” at the end.
Contents [list, synopsis and review]
by Edmund Marlowe, 31 December 2022
This volume is as mixed as its nine predecessors in the quality of its stories, and is, on the whole, of about their average standard.
The principal let-down is by far the longest story, more than thrice the length of any other, Robert Campbell’s posthumous and excruciatingly boring God Moves in Mysterious Ways. Robert Meriwether Wren, as the author was really called, could write as well as one would hope of a professor of English, but this and his story in the Fifth Acolyte Reader suggest his writings unpublished at the time of his death should have been left so. My best guess is that this account of a boy’s stay at a fundamentalist reform school was intended to be funny through being over the top, since it certainly can’t claim to be moving, thought-provoking, exciting, erotic or nicely written (it is barely intelligible, presumably in an attempt to sound like an illiterate American pubescent), but it failed to raise a smile in me.
Hakim Bey was another prolific writer who could write well (exquisitely so in the case of his Crowstone), but frequently produced mumbo-jumbo as in his poems here.
This leaves two-thirds of the book which is at least readable. I shall here pass over the four which are not much more than that, as the summaries of their plots which follow should suffice. It is surely more useful to draw the reader’s attention to what is definitely interesting and good writing.
The Sixth Acolyte Reader continues the happy new precedent set by its predecessor of including stories that claim to be more or less autobiographical, rather than fictional. The line between the two is often hard to draw, but their claims to be the former seem fair enough to me. The authors of the “true” stories are the same two as before, though neither tells quite as good a story.
De Brethmas’s is the same characteristic mockery of sexual hypocrisy through a larger-than-life story that also carries less happy hints of exaggeration for a polemical rather than literary cause. If one is going to ridicule the dishonesty of others, shouldn’t one be more careful to be honest oneself? The story is anyway decidedly amusing, though not as splendid as his Goudu.
Fuentes’s stories have a much stronger ring of unadulterated authenticity: though anyway well-written, it is from this, combined with the unusual point of view of a boy prostitute, that they derive their power to rivet. Of the two presented here, Soon to Be Fifteen is a dull meander, but Revolving Doors is as fascinating as any of his stories.
The stories of Bob Henderson, of which Getting Over It is a typical example, deserve to be mentioned in conjunction with those of de Brethmas and Fuentes because they sound, if anything, even more strictly autobiographical. The difference is that Henderson’s stories purport to be fiction: his regular main character is called David rather than Bob, but, like his creator, he is a youngish Australian writer living in Athens. I’m not sure that Henderson has ever been rivalled as an honest and insightful portrayer of the reality of modern pederastic relationships, for which reason I would say his story is the best here.
Alan Edward was another of the few really good regular contributors to the Acolyte Readers. His stories never sound quite true, but they are good whimsical fun and often evoke interesting thoughts, as does the one here, which describes the evolving feelings of a man finding himself in an erotic encounter with a child of unexpected gender. Have you ever seen someone approaching from a long distance, the length of a beach perhaps, whom you have initially supposed to be of promising erotic allure, only to find the attraction evaporate as the beauty came close enough for you to realise you had been mistaken as to gender? Does it not make you wonder a little if your preferences might not be mere prejudices?
The remaining story I found well-written and riveting was Steven Wood’s. He was also one of the best regular contributors to Acolyte, though unfortunately not as prolific a one as Edward. The libidinous man in his story, Crash, pays no lip service to such modern demands as “informed consent”, which most lovers of boys have agonised over when confronted by the accusing and condemnatory society of recent decades. Like so many males in history, he accidentally finds a boy to be as exciting as a woman once unusual circumstances force him to consider the matter for the first time. While never unkind and made kinder by sexual communion, he is at least as pushy as nature designed males to be in pursuit his natural sexual aim. The boy’s changing emotional and sexual reactions are likewise described with refreshing honesty and realism.
5 Tag / Daniel Mallory
Apparently set in an optimistically-envisaged future America where people have grown sceptical of what they are told and think for themselves, Ronnie, a well-preserved boysexual in his fifties has taken forward twelve-year-old Tag home for erotic rollicking, when Tag’s super-tough father turns up. PDF.
27 Servz im Rite / Teddy
Recounted in unpunctuated Cockney which it takes a little effort to follow, the very short story of experienced twelve-year-old Teddy who happily lets a man take him to his office and fuck him, but won’t put up with being cheated. PDF.
29 Trompe-l’Oeil / Alan Edward
After bringing to his apartment a beautiful barely pubescent child met on the street in a country that sounds like Morocco, Martin is deeply shocked to discover at the last moment that the kid is the wrong sex, but nevertheless ends up having ecstatic and full sexual intercourse. The story is tantalisingly written so that it is only at the very end that one learns which sex the child in fact is.
34 The Exorcizers Exorcised / Jacques de Brethmas
Amusing account of how the author, aged 13, seduced into sexual play five other boys his age at his boarding school through pretended acquiescence in their virtuous plan to cure him of his sexual fascination with boys. Not really Greek love, but being treated as such on this site in view of the author’s enduring love of boys.
43 Soon to be Fifteen / Luis Miguel Fuentes
A brief description of the 14-year-old New York author’s attraction to younger boys and sexual activities with them, with passing references to his continuing to prostitute himself to men. Read as pp. 46-48 of a PDF of the author’s republication of his writings, Diary of a Dirty Boy.
46 God Moves in Mysterious Ways / Robert Campbell
Eddie Tinsley of unspecified age is punished for fellatio by his loathsome bully of a father by being sent to Potter’s harsh Christian Academy.
84 Yohimbe Poems / Hakim Bey
Seven poems concerning the author’s memories of two boys.
89 Revolving Doors / Luis Miguel Fuentes
Poignant story about the author-hustler, then 14, going to stay with his rich lover on Long Island and infuriating him through a liaison with a 23-year-old waiter. Read as pp. 49-52 of a PDF of the author’s republication of his writings, Diary of a Dirty Boy.
94 Getting Over It / Bob Henderson
The now middle-aged Australian living in Athens recounts the beginning of his affair with 13-year-old Marios, encountered in a cinema after two years during which his best friend, a gay, had convinced him to give up boys.
108 Starman / Thomas Mitchell
Strange story about an awkward boy of 15 living with a bully of a mother and somehow liberated by a Mr. Chips he meets regularly in a park.
116 Raising Hell / Simon Worthy
A 13-year-old at an American boarding-school tells of how, when he was stuck in bed with bandaged hands after a prank went wrong, he was visited by his dorm master who gave an unexpected helping hand to relieve his evident frustration, without realising the boy had no prior experience that such relief was possible.
123 Crash / Steven Wood
When the small plane they are in crashes in the Australian mountains, 12-year-old Jamie has to leave his injured father and walk for days with the pilot, a robust highly-sexed man not used to going without regular sex with young women. The consequences are refreshingly presented as natural, healthy and almost inevitable.
[4, 33, 42, 88, 93, 107]. Not listed in the contents, but scattered randomly through the book are six poems from The Greek Anthology. As all the Greek love poems in the latter are presented separately on the website with original texts, accurate translations and notes, they are presented here without comment:
Six Poems from the Greek Anthology
apparently translations by “Teddy”
I admire all boys, and prefer none to his brother;
All have their charms: one has one and one has another.
I'm a friend to all boys in their prime and have no preferences. I judge each according to his charms: one has one and another another.
That happy man of blessed joys,
Demetrius, who coaches boys,
Asked me the other night to dine.
One lad brought him food, another wine,
A third upon his bosom lay,
A fourth against his neck – a gay
And fair quartet. Joking, I said,
"And do you coach the boys in bed?"
Yesterday I dined with Demetrius, the boy-trainer, the most fortunate of all men. One lad lay in his bosom, one leant on his shoulder, one brought food, another served drink – a remarkable quartet. Joking, I said, "And do you, my dear friend, train the boys at night, as well?"
[There is an untranslatable double-entendre here. Paidotrives, the word for boy-trainer (coach in sports), also means boy-grinder. The boys did not live with Demetrius but stayed on after their training to help with the party – almost certainly without bothering to dress.]
My neighbor’s pretty little boy
Provokes me with a knowing smile.
He's only twelve. The grapes of joy
Remain unguarded – for a while.
The tender son of my neighbor is always provoking me: he laughs knowingly to show his willingness. He's no more than twelve and the unripe grapes remain unprotected. But when he ripens there will be guards and fences.
[Strato thought a boy of twelve was old enough for sex. So, evidently, did his neighbor’s son – but not so the boy's father.]
Now you stand up, you useless, nasty flop,
And stretch and strain as if you'd never stop,
But when Nemesenus, that lovely boy,
Lay close beside me, offering every joy
That I could wish, then hung you dead! So, curse ye!
My flailing hand will show you now no mercy!
Now you stand upright, nameless one, and do not languish but stretch as if you would never stop. But when Nemesenus lay pressing his whole body against me, offering me all I wanted, you hung dead. Stretch, break, weep – it's all in vain. You shall get no pity from my hand.
Stolen kisses, wary glances,
Covert cuddles, sly advances —
Why, why, Phido, must we dally,
Ere hairs spoil your young attractions
Let's abandon words for mutual actions.
How long shall we steal kisses and nod secretly to each other with watchful eyes? How long shall we chatter endlessly, joining empty postponement to postponement? If we tarry we shall waste your beauty, so before the jealous ones come, Phido, let us change words to deeds.
[‘Jealous ones’ are face and body hair which spoil the boy's beauty. 'Deeds', erga = sexual acts.]
Once, long ago, a pretty youngster's price
Was a quail, a ball, a set of dice.
Now it's dinner and money in place of a toy.
You must pay dearly if you want a boy.
There was a time when boys accepted for presents a quail, a sewn ball, knucklebones. Now it's a full plate and cash they want. Toys are useless: you men who like boys must think of something better.
The Greek Anthology is a collection of epigrams (short poems) in classical Greek compiled in Constantinople (now Istanbul) in the 10th Century A.D. by a monk by the name of Constantine Cephalas. It is in sixteen books, with the poems arranged roughly according to subject. Book Twelve is entitled Stratonos Mousa Paidike (Strato's Boy-Muse) and consists almost entirely of poems written to or about boys and boy-love. Strato of Sardis lived about 120 A.D., but only 84 of the 259 poems in the book are by him. Cephalas probably used Strato's collection (Stephanos means 'garland') as the basis of the volume and added many boy-epigrams by other poets, notably Meleager of Gadara, Syria, who lived around 100 B.C. Strato seems to have been 100% boylover, but Meleager liked boys and girls equally.
The Mousa Paidike has always tempted translators. 19th Century renderings were amusingly emasculated: English schoolboys of the time must have learned as much Greek digging out their real meanings as they did in a week of classes. An anonymous reader sent us rhyming versions of a number of them, and six appear on various pages of this book, followed by a literal prose translation and in a few cases some explanatory notes. If the renderings often sound more like jingles than verse, we should keep in mind that these epigrams were always rather basic, however elegant they may sound in the original Greek.
Daniel Mallory, the author of Tag, has worked for years with underprivileged children and is completing a novel about a boys' home in the north of England which The Acolyte Press hopes to publish next year.
We can tell the reader very little about the anonymous author of Servz im Rite except that he also provided us with the verse translations from the Greek Anthology described above.
Trompe-l'Oeil is the ninth short story Alan Edward has published either in the old "Panthology" series, P.A.N. Magazine or in one of the Acolyte Readers. They include The First of the Month, P.A.N. (1979); Will o' the Wisp, Panthology One (1981); The Keeper, P.A.N. (1981); The Stake and High Doh, Panthology Two (1982); The Thing, Panthology Three (1984); Pacific 4-6-0, P.A.N. 19 (1984); and Wild Horizon, The Fifth Acolyte Reader (1991). He is probably best known for Kit, a serious novel about an emotionally disturbed boy returned to health through a sexually expressed friendship with a paedophile inmate at the mental hospital where the boy was incarcerated (The Coltsfoot Press, 1983).
Jacques de Brethmas, author of The Exorcizers Exorcised, has published three books in the language of his native France: Traite du Chasse au Minet, Editions du Perchoir, Paris (1978), Detournement de Majeur, Editions du Perchoir, Paris (1979), and Le Pedalopitheque (A Nous les Petits Francaisl), Amsterdam, The Acolyte Press (1988). A translation of the first chapter of the latter appeared as Goudu in The Fifth Acolyte Reader.
Soon to be Fifteen and Revolving Doors are two short pieces by the talented Luis Miguel Fuentes, a latino teenager living in one of the most dangerous areas of New York City and up to his ears in drugs, prostitution and boy-sex. Last year we published his Josh and John (Or I Just Can't Get Enough). He is currently working on an autobiography which, if completed, should give a vivid glimpse into his life, frequently tragic but often catching an intense kind of beauty, in a ghetto most Americans would prefer to believe existed only in TV cop shows.
The late Robert Campbell had intended God Moves in Mysterious Ways for the second book of Singularities, the first volume of which The Acolyte Press published in 1989. Other stories of his have appeared in Panthology Three (1984): Billy, War on Earth and A Boy's Love and a Whore's Oath; Panthology Four (1990): Android; The First Acolyte Reader (1986): Rodney; The Second Acolyte Reader (1986): Scruples; The Fourth Acolyte Reader (1990): Child of the Age; The Fifth Acolyte Reader (1991): Holy Fadas, Decent Food, and Goat Meat. He has also written a play set in a home for delinquent boys.
Hakim Bey, author of Yohimbe Poems, continues to be one of America's most interesting and imaginative boy-love writers. In addition to his fine "sword 'n sorcery" epic Crowstone (The Coltsfoot Press, 1983), he has contributed numerous "texts" to various publications, including Spagyria Puerorum, Orpheus at Redtop Farm, and Diario; Shinnecock & Wickapogue (P.A.N. No. 7, 1980); The Silver Pipe Cafe & Other Texts (Panthology One, 1981); The Jukes & Kallikaks Memorial Bolo and Chaos Ashram (The First Acolyte Reader, 1986); Tres Flores (The Second Acolyte Reader, 1987); Dirty Clothes/Literary Theory and Poste Restante (The Third Acolyte Reader, 1988); Pompa – A Book of Hours (The Fourth Acolyte Reader, 1990); and Blackwater (The Fifth Acolyte Reader, 1991).
Getting Over It is Bob Henderson's third story published by The Acolyte Press. The others are: Pericles (The First Acolyte Reader, 1986), Angelos (The Second Acolyte Reader, 1987), Afters (The Third Acolyte Reader, 1988). The Coltsfoot Press published a collection of his other short stories, including one novella, in 1983 entitled Attic Adolescent. An Australian by birth, Bob Henderson settled in Athens some years ago. A number of fictional characters appear and reappear in his stories: David, the usual narrator, and his gay friend Christopher, who views David's pursuit of boys with disapproval and sympathetic concern for David's well-being.
Starman is Thomas Mitchell's first published boy-love story.
Simon Worthy, author of Raising Hell, also wrote the novel, The Chronicles of the Koster Dilemma, published by The Acolyte Press in 1986.
Steven Wood, author of Crash, has contributed stories to a number of publications over the last 12 years. The Way it is in Morocco is more of a travel report than a short story; it appeared in P.A.N. No. 3, 1979. Camping Out and Joey's Island were printed in Panthology One (1981), One Night, One Day in Panthology Three (1984), and Cheating at School in The First Acolyte Reader (1986).
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