Early in the summer of 1965 I was coming home from buying the newest Rolling Stones LP in Mattapan Square. A green paperback lay atop a trash can at the Lower Mills trolley station. THE ITCH by Steven Hammer on Olympia Press was not on the summer reading list for thirteen year-old boys. I opened the pages to the center of the book and my eyes scanned the text. They found the word ‘fuck’ twice on the same page. The author had meshed them with an assortment of sexual terms.
My face went red.
THE ITCH was pornography.
I looked over my shoulder.
No one was watching me.
I stuck the paperback into the bag with OUT OF OUR HEADS and walked two miles through the deep woods surrounding my suburban neighborhood south of Boston. I stopped twice to read pages 121-126. The men preformed acts of perversion with each other and women. THE ITCH was a primer for sin and upon our split-level ranch house I hid in the attic and devoured the book three times within two hours.
Between 1965 and 1968 I must have read THE ITCH more than 3000 times. The author’s blue tales of trisexual liasions between aristocrats warped my tender libido and I succumbed to the rages of onanism without any hope of stopping my hands from touching myself over and over and over.
My girlfriend never knew about my betrayal and my parents were ignorant of my sin.
Even my older brother with whom I shared a bedroom was a deep sleeper.
I became an expert at silent abuse.
Every morning I hid THE ITCH in the attic.
It was THE ITCH and me.
By the end of 1969 the pages were tattered rags, but I had memorized the words and mouthed the text as I read from THE ITCH.
It was great literature.
Here’s a passage from THE ITCH.
She doesn’t know what she says, her warm fingers along my thigh.
“We could escape,” he said. “There’s still a lot of that fifty grand.”
“Where would we go?” she whispered. “The Magnums have armies.
“Besides,” she went on, “you know how you are. You’d tire of me after another week of this connubial bliss. We both have this drive.”
“Itch,” he corrected. “The retarded child’s itch for self-destruction.”
“A lovely way to die,” she said, turning to kiss him closely.
When they broke apart, his head seemed to have cleared.
“All right,” he said. “We’ll go through with it. But we’ll have to live together, always. The rest will be sorties. We’ll be gods who land occasionally to copulate with the mortals. After all,” he said, “we’re strong and beautiful.”
She laughed. “Yes,” she said, and recited it after him like a spell, “we’re strong and beautiful. It should be a full year.”
These books were supposedly written by famous authors down on their luck.
They were very good and as Gore vidal said, “The reading of pornography only leads to the reading of more pornography.
The old queer certainly had it right at least in my case.