A powerful aphrodisiac

More and more guys are deleting Grindr and joining gay book clubs because reading is sexy

Jason Chen was sick of meeting losers on Grindr. The sex was never great, and the conversation was even worse.  So he deleted the app and started a gay book club instead.

“Our club is pretty standard-issue,” Chen explains in a new article published by The Cut. “We send endless emails trying to get together, spend much of our time gossiping, and have rosé-fueled debates about whether Elena Ferrante could possibly be a man, or where the narrator of The Idiot falls on the spectrum, or if A Little Life qualifies more as torture or interiors porn.”

The only difference from Chen’s book club and, say, a regular old book club?

“Some of our members will probably have sex with each other,” Chen states.

The club has about a dozen or so gay guys in the early-30s, with a few straight women thrown in for good measure. They meet every few weeks for what he describes as an evening of “noodling around” and “very free-flowing booze.”

30-year-old Erik is one of the members. He says he prefers the gay book club to Grindr because “[on Grindr] you’re meeting people and just going by looks. But at book club, your intelligence and intellect are on display. It’s a different kind of mating dance.”

It’s also a great way to get to know one another quickly. While discussing characters, plots, and themes, members laugh, argue, debate, and overshare.

“There’s an inhibition-loosening abandon to book club,” Chen says. “In one meeting you learn the kind of information about a person–their values and capacity for empathy, or their ability to engage differing points of view–that would take at least three dinners. Book-club meetings are effectively group speed dating.”

The conversations, Chen says, can also serve as a powerful aphrodisiac.

25-year-old book clubber Garret agrees.

Reflecting on a flame he met through book club, he explains, “I don’t ordinarily entertain the idea of opposites attracting, but he had such divergent opinions that I couldn’t help thinking, ‘How could this same story lead to such different feelings in him?’ Things he hated, I loved. It drove me to talk to him afterward, and then that evolved into something else.”

Chen admits book club might not be for everyone:

If the whole thing sounds elitist, well, it is. If you’re not into the idea of overeducated people who have expendable income and time to grouse about made-up stories, I wouldn’t suggest my book club. But dating’s elitist, as much as we use palatable euphemisms like “common interests” and “compatibility.” For certain gay men who want to commune with others like themselves–literary, critical-thinking, bitchily articulate–it’s an incredibly efficient screening service.

There’s really only one rule to book club: No flirting.

As Erik explains, “If someone were flirting openly in the discussion of a book, that would be a social faux pas. I would want them to take it outside.”

“But if you guys are flirting about the book,” he adds, “that’s totally okay.”

Related: PHOTOS: Sexy Men Reading Make Us Want To Bury Our Faces In Their Books

h/t: The Cut

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33 Comments

  • Xzamilloh

    So basically, they went from Grindr to Oprah’s F*ck Club… they still hook up, but now there is an air of pretentiousness when talking about Jane Eyre or The Great Gatsby, which surprisingly was a terrible book with too much exposition and lazy plot twists, in my opinion. Now, bareback me.

    • batesmotel

      hahaha very true. It might have been a good idea if the goal wasn’t to find a hook up. You may as well stick with Grindr then.

    • EricHG37

      Basically–and I say this as a guy who LOVES gay lit, and would love a bookclub where I could discuss it with other readers–this is an article about one book club. That is “rose fueled” among an “elite” group that all have issues with Grindr. So this is not really about guys dropping Grindr so they can read and discuss books, at all.

      “But if you guys are flirting about the book,” he adds, “that’s totally okay.” ”

      How shitty does this book club sound? It exists for the “elite” and not for people who just want to read a good book and then discuss it.

      And then–apparently you can’t flirt *while* discussing a book? What’s the point? Oh wait…

      “But if you guys are flirting about the book,” he adds, “that’s totally okay.”

      Again–so you *can* flirt? But only about the book? Is that like reading Gone With the Wind and saying “You are totally my Rhett–carry me up the stairs” and then that’s allowed?

      I think the discussion as to whether Elena Ferrante is a man (it’s pretty clear that she’s not) or whether A Little Life is torture porn (it is–but compelling, admittedly) is barely discussed at all. Fun times at this book club.

    • Xzamilloh

      It seems like Bobby Blake’s competition with Tiger Tyson was one sided… just from that passage. Maybe Tyson did look dirty and unprofessional, but Bobby Blake came across as a big old jealous queen. Not to mention, his stroke game was always rough and would beat it down, but let’s be honest: he was more “beat” than “meat”, which isn’t bad, but calm down with the self-praise.

    • Evji108

      Getting together for a common interest, as well as social interaction is not pretentious just because it’s about reading books. It also means you might meet like minded people who are also interested in something other than hanging at bars, working out and drinking. You can call it pretentious if you want, but I personally find guys who also have a brain and some emotional intelligence sexy.

  • Heywood Jablowme

    As long as they don’t read Larry Kramer’s “[email protected]” which of course will turn them off sex forever, lol.

    • Tobi

      It’d turn them off literature forever too.

  • Bob LaBlah

    Well I STRONGLY recommend reading Bobby Blake’s My Life In Porn. It was a damn good book and one of the few books that I actually took the time to read twice, cover to cover. He talked a helluva lot about the people who are performers and are behind the scenes. It deserved far more recognition than what it got.

    • Xzamilloh

      I have not heard that name in a minute. I remember him being a relationship with Flex Deon, but I don’t know if they are still together. Didn’t one of them get saved or get real Jesus-y?

    • Bob LaBlah

      Bobby is a minister in the COGIC (I know, but still). What struck me as weird was how I thought back each time to the era’s he referred to and say how right he was. He speaks of several guys who had very well paying jobs but got hooked on crack and ended up doing porn. He also says exactly what I thought of Tiger Tyson when I saw him for the second time at the Warner Theatre for the annual fall porn convention: Tiger didn’t appear to be concerned about his appearance nor was he very hygienic. As Bobby said in his book “he makes appearances wearing both dirty jeans, sneakers and most times didnt appear to have brushed his teeth.” A narcissistic ass who knew his dick was worth its weight in gold and that was all that mattered.”

      Check your local library because by now there are libraries that stock these books. Cobra Killer and author Christopher Isherwood’s book about Joey Stefano’s rise and fall might be available as well. Its well worth reading. He does NOT speak well of Flexx Dion by the way. I’ll let you read why but if its true I do understand. I saw with my own eyes the truth he spoke about Tiger Tyson at the Warner Theatre.

    • Xzamilloh

      Tiger Tyson was gay for pay, if I’m correct, and he never did anything but get oral and top, which is plenty when you’re 14, downloading and deleting gay porn off of Kazaa and Limewire. But hearing those things about him doesn’t surprise me, because a lot of those guys did not adjust well after their short-lived careers. But I can’t lie. Latino Fan Club and Enrique Cruz was the SHIZZNIT back in the day!!!

    • Bob LaBlah

      In Tiger Tyson’s first video with Malice, guess WHO was suppose to bottom in that scene. For some reason Malice couldn’t get it up so they switched rolls. Malice “plays” with it and Tyson tells him it has to go in slow but hey, you go figure. He is on record saying that he bottoms off camera. There was a company called Streetlife that came to be around 1999 or so. They had a party and invited all of their online members to come. Free drinks, snacks. Believe it or not the party was nice up until a screaming little RUNT came in, stripped down to his red thong and started gyrating in front of us, the white guys. There were blacks aplenty there but you go figure. Fifteen minutes later I told my friend that an hour at the party was enough and he agreed. (I swear I could not believe he was that tiny and had some one told me I wouldn’t have believe it true but I was seeing it with my own eyes).

      I’ve heard off camera he was a little freak but for me, even on one of his discount days I would have to say no due to his diminutive size and that never ending curled up lip and frown when he talks. He has to be over forty by now but still acting like he’s only fourteen. After twenty plus years that shit has gotten old. If I am going to pay for sex I’d prefer some one whom I sure was not that vain where they didnt take a shower and wash their major crevices FIRST. lol

    • Bob LaBlah

      At the beginning of one of those Off da Hook videos he manages to show he wasn’t exactly a bed decoration with just a big’un. He actually blew the other guy and tossed salad as well. Just one thing. Both were tiny runts. Check out what Bobby says about their first encounter:
      https://books.google.com/books?id=pTZXDgAAQBAJ&pg=PT113&lpg=PT113&dq=tiger+tyson+enrique+cruz&source=bl&ots=EBERpn2dHA&sig=MYr9qxCt-1aETU0maIEop1VDvWw&hl=en&sa=X#v=onepage&q=tiger%20tyson%20enrique%20cruz&f=false

    • that-guy-in-va

      People get on my nerves. Reformed smokers for one. Christians who find Jesus and look down their holier-than-thou noses at everyone else (while picking over the Bible like a bad buffet). Oh, and reformed porn stars.

      Bobby Blake gets on my damn nerves. He and his book are a huge joke. If you haven’t bought it, don’t. A friend loaned me his and even said I could have it. I declined.

      For one thing, in his own mind, no other porn star measured up to his so-called abilities (and the funny thing is, I knew of Tiger Tyson, Jeff Stryker, Ken Ryker and so many others way before I ever knew what a Bobby Blake was). Then he says (while discussing gay marriage) that the gay rights movement was developed for white people by white people — oh, and he also says the majority of the black community doesn’t support it either. (Insert ‘who gives a damn here) He also says he never wore makeup because he has clear skin (honestly I always though he looked like someone oiled him down with a full bottle of hot Vaseline in every scene he did). Oh, and he doesn’t believe in gay marriage because he doesn’t want to stand in front of God and say he wants to marry another man, and he also says gay couples can’t be devoted to one another either.

      He says a lot more nonsense, no, make that bullshit, throughout the book. His exaggerated ego and poor use of commas and punctuation (my fifth grade nephew could have proofread it for him) make it for a painful read. But even moreso, his look back at an industry that made him famous in “porn land” is clouded by his narcissistic view and illusions of grandeur.

      Older guys and porn addicts will remember who Bobby Blake was. But a good indicator that your days of fame are over are when you mention a porn actor and people go “who is that?” Or when they name a new porn star with an old porn star’s name (recycled). Or when their image is in decline on Google Images.

      Bobby is well on his way in two of those categories.

    • Xzamilloh

      Whoops, replied to myself

      It seems like Bobby Blake’s competition with Tiger Tyson was one sided… just from that passage. Maybe Tyson did look dirty and unprofessional, but Bobby Blake came across as a big old jealous queen. Not to mention, his stroke game was always rough and would beat it down, but let’s be honest: he was more “beat” than “meat”, which isn’t bad, but calm down with the self-praise.

    • Bob LaBlah

      @Xzamilloh…………..”Maybe Tyson did look dirty and unprofessional, but Bobby Blake came across as a big old jealous queen.”

      No, not exactly. If you’ve ever seen Tiger in person the first thing you notice is how little he really is. And I do mean little as in tiny. I swear had you held up a quarter in front of your eye his little ass would have disappeared. Yes, he has a big one but it came clear it was because of how small he was. Then he looked like he was bombed out and that CONSTANT screaming when he said anything to the other guys he knew that were there (other hustlers jealous of him and he was clearly trying to keep the peace amongst them). Bobby was older than he was and Bobby also had a personality, shall we say. You could understand every thing Bobby was saying and didnt look over you shoulder because you felt you were being distracted so some one can walk up and hit you in the back of the head. Those two were like night and day but Bobby was on the money with his description of Tyson and Richard Reyes, another long faded porn star who ended up on Skid Row thanks to meth and drugs.

  • Chris

    Gay men need lots of ways to meet one another; and things like book clubs and sports leagues help us get to know one another in a whole lot of ways. And if participation in any of these social events leads to more than sports and/or reading, then that’s cool too. This is what happens in the everyday world of heteros as well.

  • fur_hunter

    OK……..I have two novels in print. The Old Lighthouse and THE 2. Yeah. by E. Thornton Goode, Jr. If that helps get ‘readers’ like shown in the pictures above…HEY!!!! They are relationship stories. NO…They are NOT GAY PORN. If you want to read my Gay Porn Short Stories, you have to ask me for those. They are NOT out to the public. GRIN!

  • NateOcean

    I enjoy the stock photos of guys with title-less book. If my local book club looked like that I might attend. Seriously, have any of them read a book?

    The only book I want to be discussing is Mr. Garrison’s “Valley of the Penises”.

    “…his roommate was in possession of such a fine penis, not a wart or freckle to be found…”

  • batesmotel

    This isn’t a bad idea as that is true most of those boys on Grindr are stupid and only have a vocabulary of six words, but this book club idea is still aimed to have sex with one another, so that’s not any different than Grindr.

  • djbear

    For several years I belonged to a book club run by the local gay naturalists club. We would arrive at the hosts home, remove our clothes and discuss the book. I had no suspicion that any of the members were having sex with other members. It was a really good experience.

  • verbaltopman

    Silly me. I read this article because I thought it would be about gay men actually embracing something at least marginally intellectual. I was wrong. Just more of the vapidness that passes for gay “culture” nowadays. Gay men used to be witty, urbane, and in possession of a controlled sense of hedonism — now, their free time is spent partying, screwing, and shouting frat-girlish “woooooooo”s at drag performers. Ah, culture.

  • magicbob

    Where is this book club meeting held? I’m in NJ. If it’s not nearby, does anyone know of any interesting gay book clubs in North or Central NJ?

    • Bob LaBlah

      I don’t know how far out from NYC you are but you might find the gaycenter.org a good place to start for book clubs or call them and see if nothing is posted online. Love them as I do they aren’t too swift to change things on their websites but I do remember they had a library.

  • OzJosh

    Yeah, and the most common chat-up line on Grindr these days is “Have you read the new Patrick Gale?” We’ve all noticed it.

    • EricHG37

      I’m very excited for Gale’s BBC miniseries The Man in the Orange Suit!

  • EricHG37

    EricHG37

    Basically–and I say this as a guy who LOVES gay lit, and would love a bookclub where I could discuss it with other readers–this is an article about one book club. That is “rose fueled” among an “elite” group that all have issues with Grindr. So this is not really about guys dropping Grindr so they can read and discuss books, at all.

    “But if you guys are flirting about the book,” he adds, “that’s totally okay.” ”

    How shitty does this book club sound? It exists for the “elite” and not for people who just want to read a good book and then discuss it.

    And then–apparently you can’t flirt *while* discussing a book? What’s the point? Oh wait…

    “But if you guys are flirting about the book,” he adds, “that’s totally okay.”

    Again–so you *can* flirt? But only about the book? Is that like reading Gone With the Wind and saying “You are totally my Rhett–carry me up the stairs” and then that’s allowed?

    I think the discussion as to whether Elena Ferrante is a man (it’s pretty clear that she’s not) or whether A Little Life is torture porn (it is–but compelling, admittedly) is barely discussed at all. Fun times at this book club.

  • jkthsnk

    That quote! Gross! Enjoy your limited life loser.

  • Terrycloth

    A lot of gays I know don’t read and don’t bother watching TV news…those who do read and keep up on current events tend to be snobs….I do both read and keep up …who wants to be with or be an airhead..
    I know who kardashians are who dosent..but there’s more to learn than fluff

  • SactoKen

    This is good news for those of us who write gay fiction! I’ve read (from my work) for a couple of book clubs and always enjoy meeting other gay men who like to read. Five of my novels are available on Amazon and another is one the way. I’m Kenneth Sean Campbell.

  • Riley

    If this is becoming a trend they should reprint ”The Guide For Guys” by Micheal Powell to read and educationally learn some very good tips on how to get rid of emotional baggage. Especially how to break up with someone tactfully, than jumping from a fry pan they want to get out of into another.

  • moizdog

    omg I hope they read Hero by Perry Moore tho

  • salumbre

    “the idea of overeducated people who have expendable income and time to grouse about made-up stories”

    Dear God, there are so many things wrong with that sentence, I don’t know where to start. It’s the worst bashing of readers I have ever seen –and I have seen a few — and the fact that it intents to be only semi-serious makes it even worse. What an effing shame.

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