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Monday, 31 December 2012

Samuel Steward / Phil Andros (1909 - 1993), Tattooist, archivist and porn writer

b. July 23, 1909
d. December 31, 1993

Samuel Steward was a professor of English, who wrote high quality gay erotica, kept meticulous notes of all his sexual encounters, assisted Kinsey in his research, and switched careers to become a professional tattoo artist decades before tats became respectable. He also developed extended correspondence with several literary icons, notably Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Tolkas, and a sexual relationship with Thornton Wilder.

Phil Andros was both the pen - name he used for his erotica, and the name of the hustler who was his chief protagonist. The extraordinarily literate quality of his writing, combined with its explicitly erotic character, and his extensive documentation of his life, sexual escapades and wide correspondence with leading literary figures of his time, make him one of the most fascinating characters in twentieth century queer culture.

While still a student at Ohio State University, he wrote a fan letter to Gertrude Stein in Paris. Her reply began a life - long correspondence and personal friendship. In much the same way, his letters to other writers he admired led to extensive correspondence with many more leading figures in twentieth century art and culture, including André Gide, Thomas Mann, Lord Alfred Douglas, and Alfred Kinsey.

His own early literary studies developed into a twenty year career in academia, including positions in Washington state, and in Chicago later at Loyola University and De Paul University. He also served from 1946 to 1948 as an editor in the departments of religion, fine arts, and education of the World Book Encyclopedia.

As an inveterate diarist and archivist, he kept detailed notes of all of his numerous sexual encounters, and became an unofficial collaborator (and life-long friend) of Alfred Kinsey, who once flew in a sadist from New York for a bondage session with Steward, which he filmed.

During the 1950's, Steward began moonlighting as a tattoo artist (frankly admitting that he particularly enjoyed tatooing male genitals). As this would not have gone down at all well with the authorities alongside his academic work at De Paul University, he kept the two activities strictly separate, adopting the name "Phil Sparrow" for his tattooing work, a name he retained even after giving up his university work two years later, to earn his living exclusively from the tattoo parlour.

When he began writing gay porn later, even the name he chose, Phil Andros, was a literary joke, from the  Greek for "Love" (Philos) and "Man" (Andros).

Beginning with $tud, published in 1966, the Andros books are a series of graphic and witty accounts in the first person of a fictional hustler. As Steward explained, he made the narrator of his stories a male hustler because of a prostitute's "easy entry into any level of society." "He can go see a judge as easily as he could see a surfer," Steward noted.

While most of the Andros books were originally published in the late 1960s and early 1970s, they were revised a decade later to considerable critical and commercial success.


As Phil Andros:

As Samuel Steward:

Spring, Justin:

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