Friday, September 2, 2011

Scanner down! Scanner down!

Hey everybody. Scanner's down. It should be up and running in the next day or so. Hope to have a new paperback up on Sunday.

In the meantime, I need your help. I'm on a quest—a quest to find the phrase "lipstick lesbian" in *any* piece of writing published prior to 1984. Long story short, the rumor that (I swear) I once heard that Ann Aldrich's "Take a Lesbian to Lunch" contained the first known attestation of the phrase "lipstick lesbian" may not be true. I am now actually *reading* said book, and so far, nothing (though it's an Incredible read). Armistead Maupin's "Babycakes" (1984) is the O.E.D.'s earliest attestation for "lipstick lesbian," but Ann Aldrich (aka Marijane Meaker, who generously answers questions posted to her website, god bless her) claims that "Lipstick lesbian was from the fifties, a very common description of the uptown, dress-up lesbian." So that's at least thirty years between when the phrase was allegedly being used and its first known appearance in print. Google Books confirms Maupin as the earliest, and someone tweeted to me that Maupin himself "claims" to have invented the phrase, which seems odd.

At any rate, if you have any knowledge of writing by or about lesbians from the '50s, '60s, or '70s, and think you can track down the use of "lipstick lesbian" in print before 1984, please help me in my quest. Thanks very much.

~RP

5 comments:

L. said...

Hmm, makes me wanna go back and re-read The Group. I know one of the characters towards the end decides to go lesbian, and this book was from either the 50's or 60's.

Pat said...

In 1982, Priscilla Rhoades, a journalist with the gay newspaper The Sentinel, wrote a feature story on " Lesbians for Lipstick."

Rex Parker said...

So ... close!

Victor J Banis said...

My memory was that we used the term in the 60s - but not, as I recall, the 50s. On the other hand, though I had many friends who were, I can't claim to be a lesbian. I asked my buddy Ann Bannon, who said "Victor dear,

No clue! I'd have guessed Marijane used it first, too. Good luck with the search.

So, not definitive, but I'd bet on Marijane, whose memory is formidable

Victor J. Banis

Pat said...

"Since the late 1980s the term lipstick lesbian has also been used to denote a femme lesbian"

Mark Steven Morton, The Lover's Tongue: A Merry Romp Through the Language of Love and Sex (Toronto: Insominac Press, 2003) 206