Celebrating Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckenridge—homoerotic exploration of the male physique….*
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Male Sexuality in Literature Series: Many of us have found fantasy in the doctor-patient relationship portrayed in the photo—either as physician in the power position (the ultimate “top”) or as the patient in the submissive role (the “bottom”). Novelist Gore Vidal developed this widely held fantasy in Myra Breckenridge—a short review provided here by the blogger of some very HOT prose indeed.
When published in 1968, Myra Breckenridge in the author’s words “was like a Richter scale 6 earthquake.” It quickly became “the number one best seller in the United States,” which, when we examine its content, reveals a lot about what happens when, in a puritanical society, we release deeply repressed sexuality. In a refrain that echoes Walt Whitman, also a gay (or bisexual) literary giant, Vidal states: “Yes, I have heard America singing, and these are the notes that I have recorded… .”[i]
* Probing for the Holy Grail
In the passage below we see the magnificence of masculinity portrayed by Gore Vidal in splendid detail, but the author leads us to this point in stages that gradually arouse our lust. It is part of a larger fantasy many of us may have entertained—either as the doctor administering or as the patient receiving an annual physical examination. Perhaps we’ve had the experience in school or college, a requirement for participation in athletics. All pretense to modesty is set aside as, Myra (or is it Myron), the “physician” tells Rusty who, not surprisingly, is a bit shy:
“All right. You won’t have to remove your shorts… .”
He gave a sigh of relief … too soon.
“However, I shall have to insert my hand inside the shorts and press each testicle as required by the chart.”
…I slid my left hand up the inside of his left thigh. He wriggled involuntarily as I forced my fingers past the leg opening of the shorts. The scrotum’s heat was far greater than that of the thigh, I noticed, and the hairs were soaked with sweat.
Carefully I took the left testicle in my hand. It was unusually large and firm to the touch, though somewhat loose in the sac, no doubt due to his overheated condition.… Again my hand pushed past … and seized the right testicle, which was somewhat smaller than the left. As I maneuvered it gently about, my forefinger strayed and struck the side of something thick and smooth, rooted in wiry hair… .[ii]
So Myra has invaded Rusty’s holy space, seizing his balls and brushing up against both his pubes and his still-covered phallic treasure. But that’s not enough, Myra—and the readers, you and I included—lust for more. The author ultimately accommodates us, but only does so after further whetting our appetites, albeit through Myra’s eyes:
The frayed Jockey shorts were unfortunately too loose to reveal more than a large rounded area, without clear definition… . Deliberately I took the Jockey shorts by the elastic waistband and pulled them slowly, slowly down… . The base of the penis sprouted from the bronze bush at an angle of forty-five degrees, an earnest of vitality. It was well over a inch wide, always a good sign, with one large blue vein down the center, again promising. But another three inches of slow unveiling revealed Rusty’s manhood in its entirety. I slid the shorts to the floor… .”[iii]
Seizing the Holy Grail
Using Myra’s/Myron’s voice, Gore tells us: “Rusty’s balls were unusually large and impressive; one lower than the other, as they hung bull-like in the rather loose scrotal sac. They were all that I could desire. The penis … both base and head are uncommonly thick and, as Myron always said, thickness not length is how you gauge the size of the ultimate erection… . The grail was in my hand at last, smooth, warm, soft. My joy was complete… . The shiny deep rose of the head … was impressively large and beautifully shaped… . He was sweaty but clean (I was so close to him that I could smell the strong but not disagreeable fernlike odor of genitals). Delicately but firmly, I pressed the glans, making the phallic eye open… . My hand … held him firmly in its grasp, the glans penis exposed like a summer rose… .”[iv]
Going into Action. Gore Vidal then takes brings us to witness a man’s most sacred act learned in boyhood, but practiced throughout our lives. Rusty’s privacy has been invaded, however, by Myra who taunts him—not only violating the sanctity of his craft, but also denying him the supreme gratification that is his due. Nevertheless, the author invokes powerful metaphors in the manly energy in oil from the earth, the nourishing quality of milk, and the water upon which our lives depend drawn from deep bedrock.
“In high school … did you masturbate often?”
The face went red. “Well … maybe some. I guess all guys do.”
… I slid the skin forward, then back… . “Now you do it a few times.”
… He took himself in one hand as though never before had he touched this strange object… . He gave a few halfhearted tugs to the skin, looking for all the world like a child frightened in the act of masturbating.
“Come on,” I said, “you can do better than that.”
He changed his grip to the one he obviously used when alone. His hand worked rapidly as he pumped himself like one of those machines that extract oil from the earth, milk from the cow, water from shale… .[v]
Touring the Derrière. Finally, Gore Vidal takes us in this passage on a tour of Rusty’s topography seen from the rear. In an almost religious experience, we see the magnificence of his masculinity portrayed by Gore Vidal in splendid detail. The author draws on an Egyptian metaphor in his use of the pyramid that captures an image of manly strength with references to other parts of his beautiful anatomy, perhaps with a play on words that evokes the image of a sphinx twinkling in the light.
“Now then, up on your knees.”
… He pulled himself up on his knees, legs tight together and buttocks clenched shut. He resembled a pyramid whose base was his head and white-socked feet, and whose apex was his rectum. I was now ready for the final rite.
“Legs wide apart,” I commanded. Reluctantly, he moved his knees apart… . I was now afforded my favorite view of the male, the heavy rosy scrotum dangling from the groin above which the tiny sphincter shyly twinkled in the light… .[vi]
The reviewer /blogger recommends his brothers read (or reread) Myra Breckenridge and other novels (and stories) by Gore Vidal (readily available from Amazon and other vendors). In particular, his works dealing with male sexuality have contributed substantially to removing the veils with which people try to cover over what should be embraced as a natural part of our humanity.
[i] Ibid., the preface, pp. v and viii.
[ii] Ibid., ch. 29, pp. 142-43.
[iii] Ibid., ch. 29, pp. 140 and 144-45.
[iv] Gore Vidal, Myra Breckenridge, Myron, Kalki, Duluth (New York: Random House, 1992), ch. 29, pp. 145-46.
[v] Gore Vidal, Myra Breckenridge, Myron, Kalki, Duluth (New York: Random House, 1992), ch. 29, pp. 140-41 and 146.
[vi] Gore Vidal, Myra Breckenridge, Myron, Kalki, Duluth (New York: Random House, 1992), ch. 29, p. 149.
For more of Gore Vidal’s work: http://sebastianblog.tumblr.com/search/vidal
Source of Image: StripPokerandSpank in Yahoo Groups, 1 Feb 14