Tributes to Two Neglected Gay Writers: George Baxt and Irving Rosenthal

December 8th, 2008
George Baxt

Brooks Peters, who writes some of the most interesting and thoughtful pieces on literary, celebrity, and cultural figures of the past, recently posted a a href=”http://www.brookspeters.com/?p=838″>long review of the diverse career and works of George Baxt. Although Baxt worked in theater, film, television, magazines, and just about every other medium requiring written words, he will probably be best remembered as the creator of a pioneering series of mysteries featuring the first openly gay detective, Pharoah Love, starting with A Queer Kind of Death in 1966. Baxt also wrote a popular series of mysteries based on celebrities from the 1930s, including The Dorothy Parker Murder Case and The Mae West Murder Case, in the 1980s and early 1990s. Brooks quotes from Wendy Werris’ memoir, An Alphabetical Life, who recalls Baxt as,

If you can imagine a swish, fey and girlish Phil Silvers, you’ll have a picture of George Baxt. He was hilarious and irreverent. He batted his eyelashes to make a point when telling a dirty joke. His Brooklyn accent was delicious, and he had stories to tell about every great star from the Golden Age of Hollywood and beyond. You never heard dirt dished until you heard it from the mouth of George Baxt.

Irving Rosenthal

Earlier this year, Dennis Cooper reposted an article from a previous blog on Irving Rosenthal, whose 1967 novel/memoir/cut-up assemblage, Sheeper, was one of the most outrageous and unashamed celebrations of gay life to emerge from the Sixties’ wave of sexual liberation. Although Sheeper is currently out of print, its name often pops up in discussions of favorite forgotten books.

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