The Beauty of Men Never Dies
For centuries, heterosexual men have taken great pride in celebrating, objectifying, and allowing themselves to be enslaved by the beauty of the female body. Perhaps the same can be said for homosexual men, who glamorize, epitomize, and deify the male form. Enter author David Leddick, a man who pulls no punches when it comes to his unabashed love and desire for men, in all their glorious varieties.
At 83, Leddick's life has been a full one, rich with successful dalliances throughout many art-forms. He has written 22 books (novels, artist biographies, plays, homoerotic photography), though he began writing at 65. He was a former U.S. Navy officer, a ballet dancer for New York's Metropolitan Opera, and had a professional advertising career. The fictionalized account of his life "The Beauty of Men Never Dies" is a collection of first-person vignettes that is a display of passion, love, and reflections on aging gracefully. It's a book written with a true heart, a sound mind, and an eagerness to tell it like it is. He is a self-described "Sextennial," one of many men over 60 who still consider themselves sexy.
We read about his days living and loving in a ground-floor apartment on Grove St. in Sheridan Square ("One lover of mine used to like leaping through the window, Errol Flynn style"), on role models, his body ("quite satisfactory actually, having been a dancer finally pays off when you pass the 7-0"), age in the post-AIDS-pandemic era ("now in this new century, age is taking even those who have survived all this"), his relationship fidelity, his lover whom he met aboardship in the Navy, his masturbation fantasies, the omnipresence of death, and orgasms. There's also a too-short piece on the four loves of his life, the third of whom was his greatest: a "smaller, darker, Italian" man. "When you got fucked by him, you stayed fucked for a while."
Of much younger men, Leddick gushes with a certain descriptive delight. One in particular is "Fenil," a luscious 21-year-old Latin boy with a "bulging fly on his pants" whom the writer lets crash in his guest house so he can save money - "just so you don't think that I am some kind of hopeless old fart with a hopeless crush."
Leddick's personality, witty candor, erotic outlook, and opinionated openness saturate every page. It's real, forthright, and as unsparingly candid as an 80ish gay man can get. If these stories are fiction, there is no way of knowing from just reading them, they are so lifelike.
The Beauty of Men Never Dies by David Leddick; Univ. of Wisconsin Press, cloth $24.95/e-book $16.95