Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Review: Bears – Gay Erotic Stories

Edited by Richard Labonte

Published by Cleis Press

Reviewed by Len Lukowska

What is a bear? This is something editor Richard Labonte ponders in his introduction to ‘Bears’. Apparently it’s about maturity and spirituality, and of course constructions of masculinity and the idea of being fucked/fucking a ‘real man’. OK, so that terminology annoyed me, and he didn’t really say ‘constructions of masculinity’, but I felt that’s what he meant. Anyways I’m ready to accept this book isn’t really about the theory.
Bear porn generally features older, big, hairy, often working class guys, instead of the traditional young twinks that grace the pages of many a gay magazine.

My favourite story in Bears was ‘Circulation Cub’ by Shane Allison, about a student who attempts to steal a gay magazine from the university library by thrusting it into his jeans. And of course the only member of staff left on at the library is a hot young cub who makes said student come back at three am to help with the shelving. He even gets a (library) job at the end of it. I really liked the sense of their complete awkwardness and tension up until the moment of fucking.

‘White Meat’ by Daniel W. Kelly is about Emile, who is always expected to be the butch Black top amongst the guys he fucks, and secretly wants to be topped by a white guy. So, lo and behold, his best mate sets him up with two white guys on his 32nd birthday. I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be a taboo breaking porno about gay scene stereotypes of Black masculinity or what. They find a video which Emile’s said best mate has planted in his flat called ‘Cream In Your Coffee’ which sets the overall tone. I found this one a bit cringey, though perhaps that’s the nature of porn sometimes.
I do think it’s good to find porn that celebrates older, big, hairy guys. There are a range of ages in the book, and some hot intergenerational stuff, but the average age of the men in this book is probably about forty, which is pretty cool in a gay porn world which often favours buff young things with cheekbones. ‘Leather Bear Appetites’ by Jeff Mann is particularly memorable and sees a middle aged guy pondering his history of sexual and romantic conquests and defeats and getting slightly worried about his belly and the aging process along the way. His love of Bourbon and food matches his love of sex, so as well as descriptions of him, for example, being bound and gagged and fucked by a top half his age, the story is full of graphic images of Southern cuisine and is written in a sexy Southern drawl.

There are lots of fairytale and fantasy stories in this book which have a very playful feel. The idea of being a Bear is taken to a new level in ‘Into the Woods’ by Karl Taggart in which the narrator ends up getting fucked by the missing link between man and beast who lives wild in a cave in the forest. This is my pick for hottest action.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to imagine what might happen in ‘Justin Gold and the Three Bears’ by Michael Lassel. Justin Gold is a stuck up, vacuous gay boy and son of a top plastic surgeon. Justin has pretentious, judgemental friends to match and they all enjoy a beach holiday together. Justin decides to take a short break from the beach bitching with his companions and heads into the woods where he stumbles upon a messy, dirty cottage and three beary men who fill him with disgust until he discovers his hard-on, which doesn’t take long. He is never seen again.

It’s quite hard to review porn on its literary merits because maybe that isn’t the point. I’ll get to it, my copy of Bears doesn’t fall open at certain pages because I found the action so hot. It is chock full of descriptions of hairy backs and hard cocks but nothing that quite made me feel the action full enough. But, if even the mention of a chubby guy with a big beard and a thick cock is enough to get you off, you might want to check this out.

Len Lukowska is a writer, layabout, performer and library assistant. Len keeps a blog at, lives in London at the moment and can be contacted at

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At 3:44 AM, Anonymous Stroke King said...

WOW! i was kinda shock on the picture :)


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