23 July 2009
Samuel M. Steward (1909-1993)
today is the centennial of one of the most fascinating men in American letters. Ohio-born Sam Steward began his writing career as a poet but is best known for his fiction & memoirs. he wrote a pair of mysteries featuring his friends Gertrude Stein & Alice B. Toklas & he producd gay porn under the name Phil Andros. but his greatest work of art was his life & happily for us he wrote abt it. if you don't know Dear Sammy (1977) or Chapters from an Autobiography (1981) seek them out.
in addition to his many literary connections Sam was filmd having sex by Alfred Kinsey & made his living as a tattoo artist using the name Phil Sparrow. & as I wrote in a poem a few years ago he was
probably the only man
to have blown
both Valentino & Rock Hudson.
altho we wrote & talkd on the phone the only time I actually met Sam was at his home in Berkely in 1982. his charm made it easy to understand how so many famous men fell for him. in 1990 he wrote the introduction to my Postcard Memoirs which ends
...in Kent some wonderful Ohio effluvium reaches up from the soil to charm the pants off both male and female citizens,and Alex has captured it in his lovely net of words and postcards, and here they are altogether once again all at once to be re-enjoyed and re-savored once more.
in his final year Sam was among those wishing me well in Gildzen at 50: A Celebration. I've taken to heart his admonition to avoid doctors & lawyers.
what a life he led. let's not forget it or the work he left us.