He’s notorious. He’s prolific. He’s a professor of philosophy at Queen’s University in New York who cites Homer, Freud, and Neitzsche as the main influences behind the pulp sci-fi he produced in quantity between the 1960s and now. He dissociates himself from BDSM.
Nonetheless, John Norman (a.k.a Johnathan Lange) has fueled some of my earliest kinky fantasies. I remember with startling clarity the friend who read Slave Girl of Gor aloud at more than one sleepover, all of us huddled in our individual sleeping bags, trying not to make a sound. It was hard to figure out which was more exciting, hearing the astounding things these men and women did to each other or discussing which of the boys in our class would best serve as each of our Gorean abductors. I remember touching myself furtively, greedily, hoping no one would see and yet wondering if anyone else was doing the same.
The stories were very explicit. Though the mechanics of sex were never described, these books described restraints, clothes, flogging, marking, and the duties of master and slave in great detail. Everywhere there was roiling lust, even though it was presented as the result of allowing the natural order, in which men were the masters, to preside. I was younger than is legal to write about while enjoying these stories, but even so I understood all as being part of a delicious fantasy, similar to those of finding a secret door, or a dragon with telepathy.
It was only later that I started to feel guilty about imagining in this way — as if my fantasies would lead to somehow being compromised in real life. I was well into my twenties by the time I decided that it was okay to have these dreams or even act them out with dreamers who felt the same way.
Featured image via 20th Century Trash.