A couple of weeks or so ago, I reveiwed the biography/memoir of Dennis Milam Bensie titled, One Gay American. In my review, I mentioned that I felt like I’d only gotten 1/2 or maybe 2/3rds of the story. I had found that Dennis had, a year prior to the publication of One Gay American, published the memoir, Shorn: Toys to Men, about his lifelong obsession with dolls, hair, cutting hair and, as he aged, cutting mens hair.
This book, though it does go into growing up gay in a straight, decidedly homophobic household and in a typically homophobic small town of the era, is all about a man and his obsessions or, fetishes if you prefer the word. Quite frankly; Dennis had, and really though he can control it, still has, a form of paraphila (sexual arousal over objects) when it came to hair. Dennis obsessed over dolls. He coveted them. He stole them to feed his craving for them and, later, to fuel his addiction to them. Dennis also had a lifelong love affair with hair, especially long hair…but not on women. Moreover, as he got into his teens and later he would get sexually aroused just seeing a man with longish hair. He started to obsess over opportunities to cut another man’s hair. This obsession, this paraphilia, drove him to distraction, to therapy and to the streets.
There are hints in here of things that are more fully detailed in the other book, like his marriage to a woman while being decidedly ready to be a part, at least in some way, of the LGBT community. On the other hand, this book not only fully details his addictions, but it covers, much to my delight, details about his theater costuming and wigging career in a manner the other book only briefly mentioned. It also covers in detail the molestation he suffered as a child that shaped him, which he only mentioned in the other book.
Separately, both books are interesting reads. Taken together (and this one should be first, I think), the author has quite a story to tell.