TOPMAN ¶ Online Writings by and about John Preston

John Preston in the News


Preston mentioned in an investigative report of Drummer author Tim Barrus

An investigative news article by the alternative publication LA Weekly on January 28 received worldwide coverage after it stated that award-winning memoirist Nasdijj, who had declared himself to be Native American, was in fact Tim Barrus, a novelist of Scandinavian descent who had edited the gay leather magazine Drummer in the 1980s. The article quoted gay author Lars Eighner as saying that there was a literary rivalry between Mr. Barrus and Preston, who also wrote for Drummer.

Mr. Barrus is best known as the coiner of the term "leather lit" and as the author of the 1984 erotic novel Mineshaft, about the New York City after-hours bar that both he and Preston frequented.

Nasdijj has not responded directly to the charges that he lied about his background but wrote on his blog that he doesn't trust the mainstream media's coverage of the topic. He has taken down his blog, citing concerns about the safety of his family.

In a January 27 entry in his blog, Mr. Eighner talked about the Barrus/Preston connection, as well as both men's connection with Drummer authors Steven Saylor (Aaron Travis) and T. R. Witomski. Mr. Eighner said that he had already begun to question Tim Barrus's current status by 2004.

Sometime in 2004, someone was compiling a memorial volume for John Preston and asked me to contribute something, which I did. In the piece I mentioned Barrus, and after that I got occasional inquiries about Barrus because he was not mentioned much on the web and any search for his name would turn up my mention of him. Well, I wondered about Barrus myself. So I asked everyone I could think who might know and only heard back from people who knew who he was but had not heard anything of him for years and people who had never heard of him at all. I began to think he was dead since I believed he was such a noisy sort of character that there would be some rumblings if he was living.
In May of 2005, I received one of those rather ordinary seeming inquiries from Matthew Fleischer. . . .

Matthew Fleischer was the reporter from LA Weekly who went on to break the story about Nasdijj. The Associated Press, the United Press International, Time, and Rush Limbaugh were among those that reported on the LA Weekly coverage, which followed upon two other cases of memoir writers being charged with fabricating their facts.

Mr. Eighner's mention of "a memorial volume for John Preston" is a reference to Topman. His account of Preston's connection with Barrus appears on this Website in his remembrance, Preston Goes in Search of an Author's Lost Manuscript.

More information on the Tim Barrus coverage is available in an article about Nasdijj at Wikipedia.

New edition of Franny includes Preston interview, essays, and reviews from Drummer

As mentioned below in the June announcements, Arsenal Pulp Press had plans to publish a new edition of John Preston's only mainstream novel, about the life of a drag queen, from pre-Stonewall activism to the advent of AIDS.

Franny, the Queen of Provincetown is now available as part of the Little Sister's Classics series. A passage from Franny is available at True Tales e-zine. (The Website is marked for adults, but this particular passage has no adult material.)

This edition includes an appendix with the following material:

Cover from Drummer magazine (the gay leather magazine that John Preston wrote for).

Review of Franny by John Rowberry for Drummer.

Excerpt from an interview of John Preston by Philip Gambone.

John Preston's essay, "Building Libraries . . . With Help from Mom."

"Drag Queens, Leathermen and Telling the Truth: Franny and the Life of John Preston," an essay by the editor of Topman.

Excerpt from John Preston's 1993 curriculum vitae.

Review of one of the New York stage version of Franny by T. R. Witomski for Drummer.

Cover art from the first edition of Franny.

Michael Lowenthal, one of Preston's protégés, has written the introduction to the edition, while Mark Macdonald of Little Sister's bookstore is the editor of the series. Interviews with both men are available in an article by Andre Beaucage for Xtra West.

More of the Master series reprinted

This past year has been a busy one for reprints of John Preston's books, as Cleis Press has reissued the second and third in the Master series, Entertainment for a Master and Love of a Master. Both novels are part of Cleis Press's John Preston series.

That makes a total of five books by Preston brought back into print in the space of a year and a half. Obviously the literary agent for Preston's literary estate has been admirably busy.

The reprints have resulted in a handful of book reviews. A review of I Once Had a Master is available from the Erotica Readers & Writers Association (site's warning page), while a review of Mr. Benson is archived from the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Another review of Mr. Benson is available at Clean Sheets (site's warning page). And Dave Jackson of jackson photographix mentions on his blog his cover photography for Love of a Master.

JUNE 2005

I Once Had a Master reissued; new edition of Franny planned.

Cleis Press, which last year re-released Mr. Benson, has now brought out a new edition of I Once Had a Master, which was much praised at the time of its first release for improving the literary quality of erotic fiction. I Once Had a Master played a small but pivotal role in the Canadian Supreme Court case, Little Sister's vs Canada Customs (2000).

Cleis has plans to reissue two other books in the Master series, Entertainment for a Master and Love of a Master. A fourth title, In Search of a Master, is presently issued by Kensington Publishing.

Follow the links in this paragraph to Cleis's page on the John Preston series, Cleis's press releases on Mr. Benson and I Once Had a Master (both PDF files), and the cover page for I Once Had a Master at

Meanwhile, the Canadian publisher Arsenal Pulp has announced that in September it will publish a new edition of Preston's only non-erotic novel, Franny, the Queen of Provincetown. The new edition will be available throughout North America, will have supplementary materials about Franny and its author, and will include an introduction by one of Preston's protégés, Michael Lowenthal. The description and cover of the new edition are available at the link in this paragraph.

The book appears as part of the Little Sister's Classics series, which the publisher describes as "a new series of books from Arsenal Pulp Press, reviving lost and out-of-print classics of gay and lesbian literature." The books in the series are produced in conjunction with Little Sister's, the Vancouver bookstore well-known for its anti-censorship efforts." This is the same Little Sister's as mentioned in the above court case.

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Creative Commons License: Some Rights ReservedThis text, or a variation on it, was originally published at as part of Topman: Online Writings by and about John Preston. Copyright © 2005-6 Dusk Peterson. Some rights reserved. The text is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License ( You may freely print, post, e-mail, share, or otherwise distribute the text for noncommercial purposes, provided that you include this paragraph. The author's policies on derivative works and fan works are available online (