In 1940, when the Red-Headed Kid is born, sex is a subject that never comes up. Men who openly want sex are perverts. Women who like sex are whores, and homosexuals are social pariahs. But, beneath the surface, things aren't what they seem. Kinsey is asking questions that have never before been asked, and, as the Fifties commence, the subject begins to come out of the closet. No one is supposed to do it yet, but at least the world is beginning to openly admit that it exists.
Then, the sixties storm in. Margaret Sanger legitimizes birth control, freeing women from the threat of unwanted pregnancy and all hell breaks loose. Over the following years, the Kid experiences every bit of the sexual revolution: starting in the forties, when sex isn’t mentioned; through the fifties, when there isn’t any; into the sixties and seventies, when it never stops; until the eighties, when it morphs into a fatal disease. The world turns upside down, intercourse is no longer the point. Players direct their sexual energy into elaborate games; dressing up and enacting detailed erotic scenarios in which the sex goes on forever and pornography sets the standard.
The Red-Headed Kid concerns not just the Sexual Revolution. It is the Kid's life from birth in the forties 'til old-age in the twenty-first century. The Kid turns out to be homosexual, but his saga traces the relevance of all sexual-proclivities, both genders, during the later half of the previous century. From life as a Navy officer to conditions in New York City during the seventies, from friendships to the love of a pet, the Kid's experiences speak across centuries. It is at times tender and poignant, at others sharp, humorous and witty.
“Being in thrall to a sexual compulsion must be one of the most terrible things that can happen. To lust after children, to be aroused by rape, to need to humiliate or control or torture or even murder, and to have those things controlled by the same hormonal imperative that makes adolescent boys masturbate six times a day is terrifying.”
“When Red is growing up, there are no alternatives to the heterosexual paradigm. The rules are set in stone. Girls are girls, boys are boys, and there is one path to bliss — marriage, children, and living happily ever after — which, at the time, seems to make all the sense in the world.”
“A girl in every port, long considered by men as one of the best reasons for going to sea, should, be altered to Sex in every port, which is a little closer to what actually happens. When you’re young and horny, almost any sexual contact seems romantic, because it’s new and tacitly forbidden. That, alone, makes it delicious.”
“The Kid has just gotten out of the Navy and is living in the Tidewater area of Virginia working at practically anything he can find after discovering a good part of the Atlantic Fleet fluttering in and out of its uniforms with almost no provocation. Because he’s young, horny, and cute, he doesn’t want to waste any time whatsoever committing to anything at all that will keep him from getting to The Continental, the only gay bar in town, as soon as it opens every night.”
“It’s midsummer, 1998, about 3:00am on a hot, moist night. Fire Island is quiet, except for the giggles rising wraith-like out of the weeds. There is no moon. The only light comes from the windows and doors of the cottages built alongside the boardwalks.”
“Almost simultaneously, the entire house … marches resolutely with Brad and Janet through the thunder, lightning and rain … into the brilliantly filmed fantasy of the Frank-N-Stein Place. I will always remember that moment. It changes our lives. As that pulsing orchestration lifts us, and we plunge head-long into the velvet darkness, not only are we marching into freedom, we are marching into history.”
—Madness Takes Its Toll