After returning from Korea I began looking for an apartment in my old Hollywood neighborhood. I found a boarding house run by a wonderful woman named Mrs. Glasser. She was a widow whose late husband had left her little but their house. So she converted it into a rooming house that would accommodate a few boarders, most of whom were paired up two to a room.
Hollywood Boarding House
My New Roommate
My roommate was to be a young man named Bruce.
When Mrs. Glasser introduced us, Bruce greeted me with a warm smile, and assured me he was easy to get along with. He also said he was gone most of the time because of work and the fact that he was studying drama at the Pasadena Playhouse.
Well, Bruce definitely had a theatrical air about him, and the thought that he might be homosexual did cross my mind. But he wasn't making any moves on me, and outside of the fact that he seemed rather effeminate, he didn't say or do anything at Mrs. Glasser's to confirm my vague suspicions. He was pleasant and good — natured and made an ideal roommate.
But I couldn't help wondering about the pink Jockey shorts.
When Bruce noticed me noticing them, he said, "Oh, those. Well, you see, they went into the wash with a red shirt I'd just bought. I mean, who knew the silly thing would bleed?"
"All right," I thought to myself, "If you say so." But that didn't explain why all his shorts were pink — or did it?
My best friend Carl had also recently gotten out of the army, and moved into Mrs. Glasser's, where he had a room to himself. When I asked what what he thought of Bruce, he said, "I don't know. Seems like a nice enough guy. But he does smile a lot, doesn't he?"
Then one afternoon I came home and found Bruce lying on his bed reading a small booklet of some kind. He was on his stomach and had the pamphlet propped up against his pillow. As usual, he was smiling. He gave me his regulation friendly hello and then went back to reading. Suddenly he was laughing.
"Oh, this is just too funny," he said.
"What's too funny?" I asked.
"Oh, I don't think you want to see this," he said, pushing the literature under his pillow.
"Don't want to see what?" Now, of course, I wanted very badly to see it.
"Well," he said, "all right. But I'll just let you see the cover. You wouldn't like what's inside."
By now I was ready to kill to see this mysterious missle.
"Here," he said, sliding it out from under the pillow. "But don't say I didn't warn you. And don't look inside."
I reached down and picked up the small magazine.
Well, I guess I was just about as shocked as Bruce expected me to be.
The pamphlet looked as though it might have been produced in someone's basement print shop.
It had a plain cover with its title printed in bold letters. Its name said it all:
"ONE — The Homosexual Magazine."
This was 1952, and you just didn't see stuff like this out in the open — not even in Hollywood. In fact, my first reaction was that it must be totally illegal — and that Bruce was probably in danger of being arrested if he were found with it.
"Where did you get this?" was all I could sputter.
"In Pasadena, at a newsstand near the theater," he answered with another smile.
"Is this legal?" I asked, still in a state of shock.
"Well, it was on a newsstand, wasn't it? It's just that nobody ever had the nerve to print this sort of thing before. This is the first edition, by the way."
"Yeah, and probably the last — if the police see it," I said, still in a state of disbelief.
"Oh, don't be so provincial," he said with feigned indignation. Then, as I started to open it, Bruce said, "Oops — don't look inside — you might be even more shocked."
Of course at that point nothing short of an earthquake was going to keep from looking inside.