In the tradition of Frank Browning's The Culture of Desire comes Guy Kettelhack's provocative, honest, unapologetic look at the sex lives of gay men. Dancing Around the Volcano is essential reading for the American gay community.
Gay men have long been told that regardless of their individual characters and desires, they should aspire to a monogamous model in their romantic and sexual relationships. Now, Guy Kettelhack wants to "tell the truth about the sex gay men are really having," offering a path to sexual liberation that embraces the conflicts and paradoxes of sex.
Using the voices of different men who tell of their experiences, Kettelhack questions the assumptions about the "pathology" of promiscuity, sexual compulsion, prostitution, sadomasochism, fetishes, and celibacy. These personal stories are often sexy, sometimes funny, almost always poignant in their honesty, and startling in their insights. We hear about everything from hustling to monogamous gay relationships, from the baths to the private bedroom, from fisting to French-kissing. What emerges is a sex-positive take on the whole gamut of gay male sexual behavior.
Celebrating the ingenuity with which gay men manage their sexual and aggressive drives and fantasies, Dancing Around the Volcano is a passionately pro-sex book with potentially healing--even revolutionary--implications for everyone: gay or straight, male or female.
An intelligent but awkward little book arguing that the more outre sexual needs and fantasies of gay men should be indulged rather than suppressed. Kettelhack, the author of numerous self-help/recovery books, begins by positing a Jekyll-and-Hyde relationship between his own quotidian self and the part of him that delights in slapping French boys at S&M clubs; fessing up to the importance of one's baser urges, says the author, is the only way to escape feeling guilty about them. The gamy testimonials of a handful of gay men are offered as evidence of the pitfalls of compartmentalizing the Hyde side. The first of these tells of a man who had hosted multiple personalities, among them a vicious, gore-obsessed "leather biker top"; when a nonjudgmental lover accepted all the personalities, the man's psyche miraculously reintegrated, which happily reduced the risk that his homicidal fantasies would be played out. Dubious authenticity aside, the anecdote is so extreme that it will speak to few readers. One interviewee anguished before confessing his sock fetish to his lover, who didn't mind at all; another is an Episcopal priest who found his libido only after getting decked out in nun drag for a Halloween party. The author suggests that promiscuity is the natural male impulse, and pooh-poohs the "ultimately guilt-inducing message that there's only one kind of right sex - the intimate kind." As advertised by the redundant jumble of metaphors in the title and subtitle, many terminologies are called up to explain the same simple concept: Jekyll vs. Hyde eventually becomes formal-Apollonian-Warrior-superego-Jekyll vs. volcanic-chthonic-Dionysian-Shaman-id-Hyde. Calling on authorities from Jung to Camille Paglia for support, Kettelhack invariably encourages gay men to embrace their inner Hydes. If you strip away the four-letter words, this is a routine self-help book: a useful insight or two amid much jargon-ridden psychologizing that often leaves subtleties unaddressed. (Kirkus Reviews)