The Sins of the Cities of the Plains—the first instance of gay pornographic literature—reminded me of the adolescent sex talks that everyone has when they first start getting laid. You know, the studied boastfulness and wet-lipped excitement of trading exaggerated exploits with your gal pals before sucking dick got boring. This book is exactly like a sleepover show-and-tell, except your friends are rentboys, trannies, and aristocratic dandies from the 19th century.
I knew I was in for a treat when I scanned Google Books’ helpful infograph of the most commonly used words in this text. I could tell this wasn’t ordinary plebian drivel by all the fancy words. What the fuck is tribadism, for example? (Oh, it's this.) Accordingly, buttholes are tastefully replaced by “anal sphincters,” and man whores are given the euphemistic title of “Catamites.” I also learned some new vocabulary: gamahuching (to eat pussy or suck cock. Verb: gamahuche) and mancunt (the opposite of a female cunt).
Sins was written by two real-life Victorian transvestites who were part of a gay brothel ring that Prince Albert Victor used to frequent. Called the Cleveland Street Scandal, it flabbergasted Londoners when busted up by 5-Os. The “Cities of the Plains” in its title is a reference to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the plot revolves around Jack Saul, a young whore and proud possessor of a “priapus nearly ten inches long,” and a “glorious pair of balls… surrounded and set off by a profusion of light auburn curls.”
Jack Saul ain’t no trashy ho. He hooks up with clients not in the back of buggies, but rather while window-shopping on Leicester Square, Breakfast At Tiffany’s style. An urban daddy picks Jack up and brings him home for cigars, rumpsteak (sly pun intended?), and oyster sauce. After dessert comes some solid gamahuching, with the client “thrusting forward with my own inflamed member, skewering him there on the table like some writhing animal.” Even at the peak of ecstasy, Jack retains his professionalism. He politely warns his partner, “Hold, hold, sir! Or you will get it in your mouth!”
After their session, the daddy is so impressed he begs Jack to recount his previous exploits. Not only would this help explain where Jack’s formidable sexual prowess springs from, it would also aid the older man in “frigging my blown up pego.”
In the tradition of classics such as Heart of Darkness and Notes from Underground, this novel wraps up its framing story and launches into the meatier stuff. Beginning with Jack’s sexual awakening, the picaresque narrative chronologically traces his jizz history from his humble roots as a convent school virgin. He goes from stuttering “I believe that idea quite daft, a bum is for droppings and was never constructed to do otherwise,” to screaming “Slap my arse; bugger me; shove your prick into me as I fuck him!” within 20 pages.
As you can guess, Jack indulges in all sorts of sordid buggery, but all of the acts are sprinkled with a refined sense of urbanity. In one particularly impressive episode, he has a threesome with two trannies, and while fucking/frigging, they also play the piano and improvise a satirical version of a popular song. If that doesn’t give you a bourgeois boner, I don’t know what else would release your thick spool of arbor vitse.
Rating: 4 Dildos. I couldn't get the sound of Oscar Wilde's affected lilt reading this poetically written gem out of my head. The next time you compliment a lover for a good shag, try telling him/her “never shall I forget the excess of lubricity of this triune fuck.”
Previously - 120 Days of Sodom