August 4, 1972. Shocked and furious, author Gerard Reve wrote to actor Willem Nijholt: “if I ever notice you are associating with blacks, and allow them to dishonor you, I will kick your ass, you understand, I will crush your handsome hands on the floor and pour hot fat, drippings and all, into your bum.” The actor wasn’t such an ardent writer as Reve. He probably also knew he had to take Reve’s verbal outbursts with a large pinch of salt.
When Reve’s “adored horny blonde cruel whore” responded to some letters a few days later, he ignored the writer’s threat. And if he had felt compelled to respond, he could have claimed he was inspired by the history of Fonsje and Frankie in Reve’s “De Taal der Liefde” (The Language of Love), which had been published earlier that year.
This narrative is one of the “bedtime fairytales” the narrator (“Wolf”) tells his bed partner Woelrat in order to increase their sexual arousal, and which form the content of this novel. Once again back between the sheets, Wolf is trying to make Woelrat willing by flattering him with: “It doesn’t matter what pants you’re wearing, I just have to look. Everyone has to look and shudder, wants to kneel before you, and give you boys, all sorts of boys: [...] including a Negro boy, a very beautiful one, one I know, one who has dishonored several white boys and young men unpunished.” When Woelrat responds that it “sort of makes him horny,” Wolf answers: “That black one, that Negro boy?”
That particular boy does not turn out to be the subject of Woelrat’s desire, but is certainly his companion’s. After taking several detours in his fantasies, he ends up with him. Wolf recounts that he gave Woelrat an expensive sports car, and continues with: “So you drive off in that car, Woelrat. [...] And you see that Negro boy waiting near the trade school. He is waiting for that blond, 17½ year old boy [...] That blond boy attending the trade school is very handsome, although he seems a bit slow and sluggish. [...] That Negro boy has, very cheekily, addressed him in a cafeteria with his hoarse, lewd voice, and took him into the woods with fine words, touching him and whispering banal affectionate things into his ears [...]. This is how this Negro boy took control over this sweet blond boy, because he liked the fact that that black boy was putting in so much effort.”
As it probably goes in real life with a fantasy that is being created during the narration, details are surfacing at random, and the narrative is sometimes interrupted by side-trails or insertions like: “Is it OK if I accompany myself with my hobo d’amore?” Eventually, we learn that the black boy “is rather a handsome boy,” that he is twenty-four, and that his name is Frankie. Only then we learn that the name of “the blond treasure” is Fons: “Yes, because he may be blond, but he also has a very nice, dark voice. Fonsje.” In the narrative, Woelrat continues to observe the two boys: “you saw their four cheeks moving while walking next to each other. Fonsje’s black velvet trousers fitted his perfect round boy-bum very nicely. [...] And then you saw something else, Woelrat... You saw that in the middle of Fonsje’s backside, his black velvet trousers had a tiny little round tear on the left cheek. That was on his left buttock, and he was walking on the left, so that hole, that tear, said something about him. Now you know to what extent he had let himself be humiliated. Now you know, that he was violated, and that this black Frankie had dishonored him, Woelrat. Deflowered him.”
Especially in the 1960s, these explicit evocations of gay sex in Reve’s work were criticized heavily. In “Op Weg naar het Einde” (Towards the End, 1963), the critic Willem Brandt could “see little more than a scatter-brained, dingy and cloudily written, homophile apologetic treatise.” Prof. dr. G.A. Lindeboom described “Nader tot U” (Nearer to Thee, 1966) as “a work that is peppered with homosexual lewdness and obscenities.” However, K.L. Poll was of the opinion - in 1966! - that Reve had made a contribution to the “liberalization in thought because of his propaganda of homosexual love.”
A lot of people, including many gay men, must have wondered, then as well as now, if Reve’s oeuvre could be seen as “propaganda.” However, there’s no denying that (young) gay men who are looking for a confirmation of their erotic desires can find in his works an unabashed description of homosexual love and lust, without the burden of guilt or ending in suicide, as in much foreign literature from the 1960s and 1970s, and in which sex plays an important part.
It is possible that the fact that these unconcealed descriptions of gay sex, to be found in the work of an author who has become part of the official canon of Dutch literature, played a part in the lack of a market for written gay porn in The Netherlands. However, it is much more likely that this gap is caused by the small reach of the Dutch language, and the fact that writers and publishers felt there was no money to be made in this niche market.
This situation was radically changed by Eric Kollen, who published the first volume of his “Jongenssprookjes” in 2013. On November 16, 2014, the third volume of the “Jongenssprookjes” was launched in the Betty Asfalt Complex. And as this day was also the day of the entry of St Nicholas in Amsterdam, visitors of the event received “Het warenhuis” (The Department Store), which was exclusively published for this occasion. Kollen describes this novella as “literary Black-Pete-porn,” which should be interpreted metaphorically, as the black men in his story are real black men. Kollen: “Fantasies about black men are classic in gay erotic literature; and it surprised me that Black Pete had a lucky escape. But now he has become so topical, I decided to get right down to it.” He has situated his narrative in the 1980s, when, according to the jacket blurb, “the merry children’s party” did not suffer from reproaches of racism and political incorrectness, and those who objected to the figure of Black Pete were laughed off light-heartedly.
Awakened by More Than A Kiss
The protagonist of “Het warenhuis” is Fons, a twenty-one-year-old guy who has kept his homosexuality hidden. In secondary school, he felt he was the only one, and during his first years at university, “there were only three gays that were out of the closet,” and those “were ‘the more intellectual types,’ as Fons calls them, walking around with enormous 1970s moustaches.” This alone shows that “Het warenhuis” is a fairytale, because it’s very unlikely that a student in the 1980s had such limited options on a university in Amsterdam.
Just as fate must have really conspired against him with his first timid visit to a gay bar from the wide selection of bars, a bar in which the clients are “older gentlemen [...] with tanned faces and blow-dried cuts, and shirts that are buttoned far open with grey chest hair, rampantly growing outward, decorated with golden chains.” Because of all these setbacks, Fons mostly had to satisfy his lusts by himself, and preserved his virginity.
Like a fairytale prince who is awakened with a kiss, Fons’ life changes instantly when he starts working in the book department of a department store that shows a lot of similarities with the metropolitan Bijenkorf. It comes as a big surprise to Fons that “most male employees of the department store are gay. [...] The security guards are the exception: they all seem to be straight.” But this is not the only thing that makes the security guards different: “where the bulk of the sales staff is white, the security staff has a striking large number of people from Suriname and the Dutch Antilles.” And especially those “dark men had intrigued Fons as long as he could remember.”
This statement begs the question whether Kollen has chosen the name of his protagonist at random, or whether it is a silent homage to Fons from “De Taal der Liefde.” Because Kollen’s Fons may be slightly older than Reve’s Fons, he would be more than happy to share his fate. And as Fons at the department store is part of the majority, he no longer sees any reason to hold back. His behavior becomes more flamboyant, and he never misses an opportunity to make advances and challenge the security staff.
He also goes out of his way to be the one that has to undergo a random check for shoplifting at the end of the day, with a body-search by security. When Fons has an unpaid “propelling pencil [...] of six guilders and ninety cents” in his breast pocket to show some nervousness, that moment has finally arrived. The alarm sounds, and “something happens which [Fons] had never experienced in his life: within two, three seconds at the most, his cock is as hard as a rock.
He’s taken into a small office by the black security guards Howard and Stanley, Fons’ favorite. An evening and night full of ordeals commences, in which Fons will mercilessly loose his virginity. Beforehand, Fons had realized that if Stanley would “literally encounter the flesh incarnate of that cheeky little faggot from the book department, who was always looking at him, and was getting under his skin with his ambiguous insinuations, [...] it would push him over the edge.” And that’s exactly what happens: he gets frisked, and when the security guards discover his erection, they also give him a manual cavity search. He is humiliated and beaten until his buttocks are crimson.
Even though Fons is overwhelmed by feelings of shame, they mostly manifest themselves in a constant erection, which only fuels the lust and perversity of the guards. Well after closing hours, and with his lower part of the body exposed and with a tie around his cock, he is taken to the Lingerie department of the half-dark store. There, he is forced to wear white stockings for his total humiliation and horniness, just like that of the security guards, who, as is customary in porn, are extremely hung and seek satisfaction in his mouth. But that is not enough. At the Furniture department, Fons learns the meaning of true surrender when Stanley and Howard not only take him orally, but also teach him a final and thorough lesson anally. His erotic ordeal comes to an end when his colleagues find him the next morning in outrageous circumstances...
Kollen’s descriptions of Fons’ ordeals beg to be quoted, but I do not want to rob future readers of their pleasures. Some will argue that Kollen’s novella is racist and politically incorrect because it portrays black men as super virile sex machines. Strangely enough, this objection is never made when it concerns, for instance, blond, blue-eyed - say: Germanic - twinks who drive defenseless men to lewd acts of desperation with their voluptuous buttocks, no matter what the ethnicity of their creator is. Fantasy is limitless, and goes beyond the politically correct. Let’s just accept that.
“Het warenhuis” is 64 pages long and is not available in bookstores. Those who buy at least two volumes of “Jongenssprookjes” will receive the novella for free at some select stores, and in the author’s web shop on www.jongenssprookjes.nl.