Queer Places:
Yale University (Ivy League), 38 Hillhouse Ave, New Haven, CT 06520
University of Oxford, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3PA

1364 6th Ave, New York, NY 10019
Long Island National Cemetery, 2040 Wellwood Avenue Farmingdale, Ny 11735-1211

Thomas Painter (November 6, 1905 - July 7, 1978) was an American phographer. He was an informal collaborator of Alfred Kinsey’s Institute for Sex Research, who since the 1930s documented in writing and photography his commercially-based homosexual relations. Three manuscripts survives at the Kinsey Institute Library: two studies prepared by Painter in the late 1930s, “The Homosexual” and “The Prostitute” (dated 1941), which survey gay life in New York City, and the diary he kept with the pseudonymous “Will Finch.” One of the largest sexual records ever produced, they focuse on Painter’s lifelong erotic interest in lower-class men whom he idealized as paragons of masculinity and sexual uninhibitedness. It chronicles Painter’s history of sexual contacts with these men, driven by his philanthropic ideal of socially beneficial cross-class friendship, and his attempts to reform his often delinquent lovers and rescue them from the life of poverty and crime.

Thomas Painter was born on November 6, 1905 in New York, the second son of Henry McMahon Painter, a prominent obstetrician and a member of the Social Register, a public directory of America’s high society, and Carrie Amelia Stevens of an old New England family, tracing its origins to a Puritan colonist of the Mayflower, John Stevens, who settled in Stamford (Danen), Conn , about 1641. Carrrie Stevens worked as a schoolteacher prior to her marriage. Before succeeding in his career, Painter’s father went through a period of financial difficulties but, by the time his sons were born, he was making over fifty thousand dollars a year and his family enjoyed a more than comfortable lifestyle, first in their New York residence on Fifty-Fifth Street and Fifth Avenue and later in the wealthy suburb of Hawthorne, New York. Painter’s accounts of his childhood and adolescence are striking in their repeated emphasis on his overwhelming loneliness as a boy and the debilitating boredom of his daily life. In different parts of his sexual record, Painter would reflect back on his early years but always with a feeling of sadness, disappointment and even anger; it was the life he did not enjoy at the time and later came to profoundly resent. “I read about ‘happy childhood days’ and about ‘school days’ and about the fun of adolescent days,” Painter wrote to Kinsey in 1944. “Mine weren’t especially miserable but they were blank, uneventful, time-killing years.” Being a sickly child who was forced to stay home for long periods of time, Painter experienced very little social contact besides his immediate relatives, had no friends among his peers and rarely took part in outdoor activities. His relations with his parents were equally difficult. The father, who from the time Painter was born had an affair with another woman, singer and folklorist Loraine Wyman, grew estranged from the family and was hardly ever at home. The mother, distressed by the situation, emotionally withdrew and refused to entertain her husband’s affluent friends and partake in child-rearing or household chores. According to Painter, she suffered from the “excessively puritanical background” (as a young girl, she was not allowed to play with dolls on Sunday and made to read the Bible) and was an “icebox” with her children. Having no visitors at their place and no school “buddies” to play with, Painter felt shut away from the outside world and deprived of affection and everyday companionship. “I had no childhood, no adolescence. No home. No mother,” he lamented. “Just years, a house and a preoccupied woman.”

Painter attended Yale from 1925 to 1931, first studying for his bachelor’s degree and then working as a graduate secretary of the Yale University Christian Association. Planning to pursue a career in teaching biblical history, Painter went to Oxford in October 1931 to begin his studies for a Bachelor of Divinity degree in Mansfield College. In December, during the Christmas “vac,” he traveled to Munich where a friend from Yale took him to a homosexual tavern called “Swatzer Fisher” in one of the city’s lowerclass neighborhoods. In Munich, Painter also came across the homosexually-themed magazine Die Insel and assorted nudist publications, all of which he brought with him back to Oxford. It was while tracing nude figures from these magazines and making them into sadomasochistic drawings that Painter discovered masturbation and had his first orgasm; he found it “very exciting” but was “shocked at the thought that he was a masturbator.” Painter’s first sexual contact with another man occurred several months later. In July 1932, Painter went bicycling across Germany and Austria and in Vienna frequented its many open-air swimming pools, observing local young men in revealing “proletarian” swimsuits (“gee-string” trunks with no top) that he had never seen in the United States. Visiting a men’s bathhouse in Gänsehäufel, Vienna’s popular lido on the Danube river, Painter was approached and seduced by a “magnificent youth,” a male prostitute Lajos Halász, who clandestinely masturbated him till orgasm. “I remember wondering why he did that,” Painter remarked later, emphasizing his profound ignorance about sexual matters at the time and his complete unfamiliarity with the routine of male-to-male sexual contact in anonymous urban settings. On their second meeting, they went to Halász’s apartment and had sex again, now in the manner that included mutual body rubbing—the sexual technique of “frictation” that was to become Painter’s favorite. Finding bodily contact with a man to be immensely satisfying, Painter was, at the same time, deeply upset about the fact of his engaging in the “sinful” homosexual relations. He mentioned being so shaken by what had happened that, while the young man was still in the room, he started crying and went down on his knees praying and promising himself to never do it again. He did it, nevertheless, several times while traveling with Halász to Venice and Florence but was tormented by a profound sense of guilt.

Shortly after this sexual epiphany, Painter revealed his overt homosexual ual experience to his father, who was "shocked to the core." His father, who was in France at the time, sent him home to New York to see the neurologist rologist he had previously seen, who in turn referred him to treatment with the eminent psychotherapist Alfred Adler. Over the next two years, while continuing his graduate education at Union Theological Seminary, Painter spent seventy hours in therapy with Adler. According to Painter, Adler ascribed cribed his homosexuality to sibling rivalry for his father's attention and a "hatred" for his mother. When therapy was concluded, Adler declared that Painter was too "obstinate" to be cured. What Painter gained out of treatment was getting rid of his guilt feelings.

Some time upon returning from Europe, Painter visited his friends at Yale and, being naive about the possible consequences of such a confession, he informed them that while away he had become an “overt homosexual.” “I wanted to be honest and open and frank,” he remarked. “I was an idealist and impractical and unworldly.” A major scandal naturally ensued, especially in the light of Painter’s previous work with freshmen at the University Christian Association; the new graduate secretary, Robert Brank Fulton, “declared he would resign if Painter were to set foot again on Campus.” Through YMCA channels the news of Painter’s homosexuality reached Union Seminary and, while he was allowed to graduate, he soon discovered that he was effectively banned from any kind of religious or teaching work. The seminary administration made sure to notify all potential employers about Painter’s “idiosyncrasy” on the ground that it was “one of those things that did not affect merely Painter, but the others.” When Painter, for example, applied for a teaching position at Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, a Christian prep school for boys well-known for providing elite education to students from poor families, he was informed that, on account of his “problem,” “it would not be advisable for him to come there” and he was advised to “seek other kind of employment.” This social opprobrium did not entail immediate financial consequences for Painter; his father died in March 1934, leaving him a substantial inheritance with which he could enjoy a comfortable lifestyle and sponsor his numerous lovers. Psychologically, however, these events had a profound effect on Painter making him for the first time painfully aware of society’s unjust treatment of homosexual men.

In November 1933 in New York, Painter met his first hustler Jack Flaherty, “a big, tall, husky blond with a cheerful, pleasant all-American looking face,” whom he spotted on the street, followed into a Forty-Second Street movie theater and, after a brief conversation, took to a nearby hotel for sex. Flaherty was instrumental in initiating Painter in the ways of commercial sex; he acquainted him with the bars in the Times Square area frequented by hustlers and explained the routine of approaching them for sex. Another man, the “machoruggedly virile, independent-spirited, … coarse and brutal” George Jansen, whom Painter met in March 1934, introduced him to his many hustler friends and brought him to Matty Costello’s “peg house,” a homosexual brothel of which Painter was to become a regular customer. Finding in George’s gang his ideal of aggressive, tough, masculine-looking and sexually “normal” young men, Painter began a period of close social and sexual association with them. After graduating from Union Seminary, where he lived in the dormitory with another student, Painter rented in September 1934 an apartment in a tenement building on West 109th Street near Riverside Drive, where he could now freely and safely entertain such company. Hiring an Italian man “Blackie,” whom he met at Matty’s brothel, as a live-in lover and cook, Painter made his place into an open house for a group of Forty-Second Street hustlers who were coming over at random hours to eat, sleep, socialize and have sex with him. Writing about the “ranch,” as he referred to his 109th Street place, Painter described it as “simply a den of prostitutes and thieves, with [him] as their meal ticket— and as one of them.” According to his sexual record, in the period from March 1934 until March 1935 when Painter lived at the “ranch,” he had sex with more than thirty different men—a striking contrast to the near-celibacy of his youth.

Within about two months, Painter ran out of money from his family allowance, which forced him to give up the apartment. By this time he had became infatuated with a particular hustler from the apartment, Willie O'Rourke, with whom he lived for six months in a furnished room on W 55th Street, the same block where he had been raised as a child in his family's town house. According to Painter, O'Rourke was a "tough character" with a criminal record of burglary and an addition to heroin. Painter fell in love with him, and for the first time in his sexual relationships, he found that the feelings were mutually shared. Painter took him upon himself to "reform" O'Rourke and succeded since O'Rourke, who had been a merchant seaman, returned to sea. As Painter recalled 35 years later, "This experience convinced me of the power of love, a conviction I have retained ever since." When O'Rourke left, Painter returned to his promiscuous sex life.

Barred from religious work, Painter relied on a succession of inheritances to support himself, while his attempts to find other work were rather half-hearted and did not lead to anything until after the war. By February 1935, Painter had already spent all the money he received in March 1934 after the death of his father, but in the fall of 1935 was able to obtain $500 from a friend, ostensibly to undertake research on male prostitution which he, however, did not begin until 1939-1940. Painter persuaded a wealthy Yale friend, Luther Tucker, to help. Tucker had been a year behind Painter at Yale and they were active at the same time at Dwight Hall, the Yale Christian Association. Tucker's mother had been very grateful to Painter because he had been such a good influence on her son. In the fall of 1935, Painter had received $500 from Tucker, a sizable fund in the Depression, which enable him to get another apartment for himself. However, when Tucker's family found out about the purpose of the grant, the money stopped coming.

In July 1936 Painter went completely broke again and took a a two-month job as a relief elevator operator.

At his mother's re-quest, Painter spent the winter of 1936 with her in Florida. This served as an opportunity for him to meet hustlers in various parts of Florida and Georgia. Soon after Painter returned to New York, he met Tony Bielskis and had his first serious relationship, which lasted for three years. When Painter first met Tony at the beach in Coney Island, he invited Tony to live with him. At the time, Tony was eighteen and had been on his own for four years, having left his home in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. On the road he had supported himself at various times by becoming a "casual hustler." He fitted Painter's idealized image for a sex partner—muscular with an outgoing personality. This was not a monogamous relationship and often they would bring hustlers home in each other's presence. Shortly after they met, Painter found a job for Tony at a Ford Plant in suburban New Jersey.

Painter’s brother Sidney offered him a position in a silk factory in Connecticut owned by his friend but Painter turned down the offer, refusing to leave New York. Instead, after discovering that his father’s second wife was dying from cancer and was expected to leave him and Sidney a large estate, Painter decided to borrow money from his future inheritance. Sidney found such an attitude towards their stepmother’s illness “cold-blooded and ghoulish,” but nonetheless endorsed his brother’s borrowing of $2,000 (attained on the condition of signing away $10,000 of the estate) when Painter promised to learn stenography and do library research for his book about homosexual prostitution with this money. After less than three months, Painter had spent all the money but neither learned stenography nor showed any progress with his book. Instead, in February 1937, he wanted to borrow another $2,000, which Sidney also allowed, however reluctantly. Painter’s stepmother died in the fall of 1937 leaving him around $60,000.

Painter and Tony went to Paris to settle the estate. Painter now had a substantial inheritance from his father, which was supplemented when his mother died in 1940. Apparently because Painter and Tony had gone to France together, Painter's mother and brother now knew that he was homosexual. By this time Painter gloried in being able to show off his partner to his Yale friends and was especially proud of how he had transformed Tony. Unfortunately for Painter, his relationship with Tony was to last only another year. During their time together, Tony made frequent visits to Pottstown (financed by Painter) and became romantically involved with a woman whom he married in 1939. Within a short time after Tony left, Painter met Peter Dubrava. Peter, like Tony, came from Pennsylvania and had left home when he was seventeen. After two years on the road, surviving with odd jobs and hustling, he arrived in New York, shortly before Painter met him through a prostitute "procurer." Peter had the physical and personal attributes Painter was looking for—a well-proportioned physique, golden blond hair, and a gentle, refined, yet "virile" personality. Painter was sexually enthralled with Peter and believed, as in the case of Tony, that he had fallen in love. Painter realized that Peter preferred women sexually, but he valued Peter's admiration and affection for him. Nevertheless, he also realized that Peter's stay with him would be, inevitably, temporary. Indeed, within a year Peter left to join the coast guard. Looking back, Painter described his Tony-Peter period as one of "false love and companionship... with one-sided infatuations on his part plus too much money and avail-able sex"" Painter came to recognize that it was his money that was the primary source of their attraction to him. In other words, he felt that they were "kept boys."

Painter’s regularly captured Peter Dubrava in daily situations during their travels together in 1939-1940. Peter was photographed playing golf in his swimming trunks, doing acrobatics, suntanning naked on the beach or swimming in the ocean. But there also appears in this collection a different kind of imagery: single indoor studies of the naked male figure, formally posed according to “Classical” conventions of the academic nude and American physical culture photography of the prewar years. These pictures were taken of Peter with the help of one Elliot Clarke, a commercial photographer in whose studio at 9 East 54th Street, Painter invested $3,000 in 1940 to be able to use its facilities for his private photographic experiments. Painter described his attraction to Peter’s body in highly aesthetic terms; he was an Ancient Greek statue of a handsome shepherd in sleep come to life. Discovering that Peter possessed a well-developed muscular physique, Painter suggested he start training regularly and become a bodybuilding model. He paid for Peter’s gym membership and, “to maintain his self-respect and give him the feeling that he was not being kept,” found Peter a job posing nude for his friend, “alleged sculptor” Tom Clifford. They spent most of 1940 vacationing together, driving across the country in Painter’s newly purchased Packard, visiting Florida in March and California later in the summer.

After his own mother’s death in 1940, Painter received even more money and these funds sustained him until he joined the Armed Forces in April 1942. Thomas Painter was a Staff Sergeant in the US Army during World War II. He served from 5 Apr 1942 until 2 Apr 1945.

The historian Jonathan Coleman, who wrote his University of Kentucky doctoral dissertation about same-sex prostitution in London from 1885 to 1957, oversees an archive named for the gay, Kentucky-born artist Henry Faulkner. Faulkner, a close pal (and maybe also a lover) of the playwright Tennessee Williams, made colorful, stylized still lifes and was known for turning up at art shows with a bourbon-drinking goat. Coleman’s research has shown that Faulkner, artist Edward Melcarth and Thomas Painter lived together in New York for some time during the decades following WWII. They shared friends, artistic interests — and sexual partners, too. Coleman said, “Painter was one of the research subjects who provided testimonials about his own and his homosexual associates’ sexual activities to the pioneering sexologist Alfred Kinsey. His reports were detailed, and from them one can learn something about Melcarth, whose appetite for sex was rapacious.” The faces of several of the hustlers, blue-collar workers, and other acquaintances who posed for Melcarth and presumably also kept his bed warm are the subjects of his small-format, oil-on-canvas paintings.

Painter met Melcarth, who was living on the second floor of Matty Costello’s brothel, in 1941 and commissioned him to make a portrait of his then boyfriend Peter Dubrava. The arrangement fell through because of the war, but they remained friends and, when Melcarth offered Painter a spare room in his large studio at 1364 Sixth Avenue at Fifty-fifth Street, he gladly agreed and moved there in October 1945. Painter enjoyed the low rent of fifteen dollars a month and the company of a fellow “queer” who joined him in cruising and never protested his bringing men over for sex. In fact, he occasionally complained about the frequent parties held in the apartment and countless “seamen, strange foreigners, and the oddest characters of every sort” regularly staying over, describing his room as resembling Grand Central Station and his living there as “a sort of mental exercise.” On the other hand, he acknowledged that “privacy was not required or expected” at Melcarth’s studio, which was essentially an open house for his bohemian friends and current and former lovers, and characterized it as “all very much a communal enterprise, including their private lives.” Invited to Melcarth’s apartment while visiting New York, Alfred Kinsey was fascinated by its sexual goings-on and the mix of people the place attracted—from semi-literate Times Square hustlers to homosexual literati like Gore Vidal. In April 1946, Painter had to move out of the apartment, as his room was taken by Melcarth’s new lover, but he returned in October 1948 and stayed until December 1952, when a series of violent incidents involving hustler Jimmy Healey, prompted him to look for a different place where his whereabouts would not be known.

Arthur Wyrsch was, a popular physique model in the early 1950s who worked with Alonzo Hanagan (“Lon of New York”). Painter wrote about Wyrsch, whose modeling and sexual services he and Melcarth regularly used: “As was the vogue at the time (maybe it still is) the muscle boys were all whores, and so Arthur became one too. I don’t say that like my Puerto Ricans they obliged sexually if approached nicely—they were aggressive and common whores to anyone to do anything. … Well Arthur didn’t stop being a whore as almost all other boys do at a certain age (they get a good job, marry or just tire of it). … The sex business (and I mean business) is not a hobby; it is another job, moonlighting so to speak. His own apartment is the whore house all the time cluttered with hustlers and/or queers.”

Two important figures in Painter’s biography, brothel owner Mario Esposito (“Matty Costello”) and Painter’s closest “queer” friend Bill Graham, illustrate the opposite models of homosexual identity and lifestyle, defined by these men’s class position and gendered self-presentation, in between which one can situate Painter’s own understanding of his sexual subjectivity and the type of relationships he strived for. Born in Naples in a family of peasants, Mario immigrated to America at the age of eight and had sexual experiences with men since the age of fourteen; his first partners were a neighborhood garage mechanic, a fisherman he met at Coney Island, several sailors. In his late adolescence, Mario discovered a group of effeminate “fairies” who frequented Bryant Park prostituting themselves. He joined them and began to regularly use makeup and wear female clothing to attract men, adopting the female name of “Dolores Costello.” At around eighteen, he met a “big, husky” sailor who became his first regular lover, a “husband” with whom he lived together for four years performing household chores and occasionally dressing as a woman at home. Together, they began a successful business of procuring male prostitutes, carefully chosen by them for their masculine looks and good reputation, to homosexual men. Mario used the pseudonym “Matty” for his work as a madame. Deeply embedded in the working-class culture of gender-stratified homosexual contact, he exhibited a distinct transgender persona, entertaining in drag, preferring “passive sodomy” in sex with men and enjoying “female” activities like cooking, sewing and decorating.

Bill Graham, on the other hand, was representative of the “queer” subculture that began to develop in the mid-twentieth century, mainly in the middle- and upper-class milieu. Graham was Painter’s roommate at Yale, and the two men, after revealing their homosexual feelings to each other (at the time, neither had yet had sex with men), became close friends and confidants. Unlike Painter, however, who was unusually open about his sexuality and in this way jeopardized his career in religious teaching, Graham remained, in contemporary terms, “closeted” and lived a comfortable bachelor life of a rich businessman, conventionally masculine in appearance. Unsuccessful in cruising men for sex, often beaten and robbed by the “trade” he picked up on the streets, Graham came to rely on Painter for supplying him with sexual partners; he was, according to Painter a “fellator” who enjoyed performing oral sex on young muscular men. Graham’s most long-lasting affair was with the “smooth, intelligent and quite stable” Duke Bannan, an “apparently homosexual” brother of one of Painter’s sexually “normal” working-class partners. The relationship between Graham and Duke Bannan was that of sexual patronage. Duke was a “kept” lover who entertained the idea of becoming an actor or a singer and was financially supported by the millionaire Graham in this endeavor until Graham’s death in 1954, allegedly from suicide.

Painter believed that Bill Graham’s death might not be a suicide. In his sexual record, he described the last months of his life as marked by his continuous quarrels with Duke over finances. Duke was leading a luxurious life, requesting more and more money. After he complained of being tired driving a Jaguar and demanded a Cadillac, Graham announced to his lover that he was taking him out of his will, from which he was entitled to one-fourth of his estate amounting to over $250,000. Soon after that, and before Graham was able to remove Duke from his will, he allegedly committed suicide in his apartment.

Two years after his discharge from the Army, Painter was still showing little interest in finding regular employment; except for his military service in 1942-1945, he had not been working ever since his graduation from Union Seminary, living off inheritances and, after the war, his GI Bill payments. This fact increasingly worried Kinsey, with whom Painter by then established friendly relations, and he urged Painter to start working and become self-supportive as soon as possible. Refusing to leave New York, Painter rejected an offer to teach in a Negro college upstate but in April 1947, obtained a position as a probation officer through the Veteran’s Employment Agency. He continued to work first at Queens and later Brooklyn Probation Departments of the city’s Children and Family Court until February 1956 when he was asked to resign, when his homosexuality became somehow known.

In February 1956, Painter was unexpectedly asked to resign from his job as a probation officer with no explanations given. Having recently inherited around $30,000 from his closest friend Bill Graham who committed suicide in November 1954, Painter decided to undertake his first trip to Puerto Rico, taking with him Indio’s friend Tony Flores , whom he met earlier that year, as a guide. Born and raised in La Perla, Tony introduced Painter to some of the slum’s inhabitants, including his cousin, “passive” homosexual Luis Alvarez who became Painter’s translator and procurer. Living in the Palace Hotel in the downtown San Juan, Painter spent his days in La Perla, observing the daily life of the slum’s dwellers: young men hanging around “half-naked or with shirts flapping wholly open,” drinking and dancing in the colmados (“the tiny-bar-eating-placegrocery-store-places”), swimming in the ocean. With Luis’s help, Painter was able to approach the men he was interested in and bring them to his hotel for sex, under the pretext of photography or English lessons. Through Luis, he was also invited to various social gatherings in La Perla, which he deeply enjoyed, finding that the slum’s “primitive” and uninhibited inhabitants manifested at best what he saw as the easy-going and funloving nature of the Puerto Rican nation. Rather ignorant of the economic realities of life in La Perla and completely unaware, it seems, of the important role prostitution to Americans played in the slum, Painter considered his being thus accepted, including by the young men’s families, to represent the openness and hospitality of the Puerto Rican culture.

From 1958 to 1962 Painter was in a relationship with Efraín Rivera, a young Puerto Rican gangster who, other than Painter’s lover, his roommate and procurer. A younger son in the family of eleven children, Efraín was born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico in the poor family of a longshoreman and spent his childhood in New York begging on the streets and working as a shoeshine boy. When Painter first met seventeenyear-old Efraín, he was a member of the Fourth Street gang of “Untouchables” and was involved in its various criminal activities. At the age of thirteen he was introduced to sexual contacts with “queers” by an older man who regularly masturbated him in exchange for gifts and money handouts. He continued “playing the queers” later in life, for the most part simply robbing them. As Painter summarized Efraín’s situation, “He was pronouncedly heterosexual and disliked queers and sex with them, but his handsomeness and macho demeanor were always attracting them. So he solved the problem quickly and profitably.” Painter speculated that because he treated Efraín “royally,” taking him to the Dixie hotel and presenting him with a portable radio as a gift (their first meeting took place in August 1958, soon after Painter received another installment from Bill Graham’s inheritance), he was not robbed “then and there” but instead was able to develop a more long-term affair with him. Several weeks after their meeting, Efraín was arrested for assault and robbery and put in jail. Driven by his idealistic desire to “reform” another of the “lost boys” in trouble, Painter hired a lawyer who helped to get Efraín a probation sentence. The episode brought Painter in close contact with Efraín’s family and his gang and allowed him to win their trust; he began seeing him and his friends regularly, hosting their get-togethers at his place. Efraín was arrested again in July 1959, however, and stayed in jail until March 1960.

On Efraín’s release from jail, there began a new stage in Painter’s relations with him which now became more intimate and, at the same time, more abusive. Painter saw Efraín more often and enjoyed the company of the thoroughly “macho” heterosexual young man and his numerous gangster friends whom he brought along. In March 1961, Painter, along with eight members of the “Dragons” gang, was arrested for driving a stolen car and imprisoned at the Tombs, the New York infamous detention jail. This incident resulted in Painter being now treated as “one of the boys” by the hyper-virile gangsters he idolized; he saw himself as having been able to establish with them that special intimate connection unavailable to outsiders. About his relationship with Efraín, he wrote, “I hold the unique position of receiving the intimate confidences and the willing cooperation in answering my questions of a boy whom no other educated, upper-class person could even approach. (Not even as a queer, as he loathes them.)” Painter took pleasure and pride in this exceptional status and thought himself immune to violence directed by Efraín and his friends at other “queers.” He further remarked, “I am sure that part of my pleasure in Efraín is in his very dangerousness—and the fact that I can sit by him and stoke his hair and talk soothingly—and he will smile his nicest back at me. … Like having a pet panther who slashes anyone else but purrs for me.” While Painter acknowledged that “queers” were the “natural prey” of men like Efraín, “brutes and criminals, thieves and beaters-up,” he saw himself as a “wild-animal trainer” could “tame” them—not only remain safe from their harassment but even be protected by them in dangerous situations.

To what degree these were only Painter’s illusions is hard to say, but the fact was that his relationship with Efraín began to degenerate very soon into the same series of violent confrontations and incessant requests for money that Painter thought himself protected against by his status of a “special friend.” In Painter’s own words, Efraín was an unbalanced and aggressive youth, “sullen and intractable, argumentative and nasty.” In the “case study” of the young man’s personality, Painter remarked that “his abnormal sensitivity and low boiling point, his hatred of authority, his aggressive pride and independence, all conspire and overwhelm his controls.” Efraín was, moreover, a drunkard and a compulsive gambler and demanded more and more money from Painter who, now living off the small salary of a bookstore clerk, could hardly pay his own expenses. The conditions of Efraín’s parole required him to hold a steady job and, using this situation as a pretext, he made Painter sponsor his numerous, usually fictitious, projects of obtaining work. In January 1961, threatening to have Painter “hospitalized” by his gang in case he goes to the police, Efraín took all his rent money, supposedly to go to New Jersey to work on a farm. He did not go anywhere and instead continued extorting money from Painter, alternatively using promises to find Painter a cheaper accommodation or threats of physical violence. On one occasion, he showed up with what he called his “strangling rope” and demanded Painter give him the thirty-three dollars he had recently received from the Institute for Sex Research for a bus fare to go to Indiana. Though they had long since ceased having sex, Efraín also regularly threatened to rape Painter and on one occasion did, holding a hammer over his head.

Painter in his sixties worked as a bookstore clerk on a meager salary of two hundred dollars a month, lived in low-income rooming houses and associated mainly with poor delinquent youth, most of them Puerto Rican immigrants. He had no contacts whatsoever with the upper-class friends from his youth (some time in the 1960s, for example, he tried to get in touch with Gordon B. Tweedy, his old-time friend from Taft and Yale and by then a prominent lawyer and the vice president of C. V. Starr & Co. of the multinational insurance giant American International Group, and was explicitly told not to call him ever again), while the family of his brother, the professor of medieval history at Johns Hopkins University Sidney Painter, essentially shunned him. When Sidney died in January 1960, his wife did not even notify Painter because, “according to her, he deliberately chose to live a sort of life of which she intensely, deeply disapproved with all her Scots Presbyterian upbringing”; Painter only learned of his brother’s death from an obituary in The New York Times. As much as Painter stressed his emotional affinity with lower-class communities and the urban underworld, he was also ultimately driven there by the strong disapproval of his homosexuality shown by his family and “respectable” friends.

In January 1962, in an an attempt to save money, Painter moved in with Efraín in a cheap tenement house on the Lower East Side. There, Efraín took complete control of Painter’s finances, gambling all of Painter’s meager income. He also stole some of the sexually explicit photographs Painter made of his lovers, including himself, and used them as a means of blackmail to extort more money from Painter and prevent his going to the police. The situation became completely intolerable when Painter, who began “peculating” small amounts of money from the bookstore to give to Efraín, was now seriously risking being discovered and fired. He decided to flee New York and relocate to California and, with financial help from the Institute, was able to do so in July 1962, going to San Francisco.

Painter chose San Francisco as his destination, attracted to its climate, beauty, and tolerant atmosphere. What was most important for his purposes, poses, however, was that he had a contact there whom he felt could help him get a job and get settled. This was Harry Benjamin, the medical sex researcher who had befriended him during his association with the sex variants committee. Once settled in San Francisco, he would contact Doubleday's regarding his resignation and therefore be able to apply for unemployment insurance. At the end of June, without informing Efrian, Painter left New York. He thought he could never return because of the threat that Efrian posed. He looked forward to making a new life for himself in California. Anything would be better than the last six months that he had wasted.

Painter arrived in San Francisco by bus in July. On the way he spent two weeks in Bloomington working on his papers. On his first full day in San Francisco, he went to see Benjamin, whom he had not seen for ten years. He described their meeting as a "remarkable experience" because it gave him an opportunity to talk about his life to a sympathetic and interested listener whom he greatly admired. To get help in finding a job, Benjamin recommended that he contact Hal Call, one of the leaders of the Mattachine chine Society in San Francisco. Call suggested that he might have better opportunities in Los Angeles and directed him to get in touch with Evelyn Hooker, the psychologist who had carried out pathbreaking research in the mid-1950s that demonstrated no differences in mental health indices between samples of homosexual and heterosexual men. With no sure leads in San Francisco, Painter decided to head for Los Angeles. He was also prompted to leave San Francisco because he did not like the cool summer climate. With a loan from Benjamin to pay for his bus fare, he arrived in Los Angeles a week later.

In Los Angeles Painter found affordable lodgings at the Hotel Baltimore, more, a "drab, no-frills" establishment with large, clean, and comfortable rooms. The hotel was in the seedy side of the downtown district, four blocks away from Pershing Square, the infamous hangout for male hustlers tlers and homosexuals. After settling in, Painter explored the Square and nearby gay bars. In an attempt to establish social contacts, Painter knew that Peter was living in the Los Angeles area. He had not seen Peter in about fifteen years and was looking forward to reestablishing their friendship. Painter had a good visit with Peter and his wife, but in a subsequent sequent phone call, Peter gave him the brush-off. Painter was disappointed and made no further effort to contact him.

On the recommendation of both Hooker and Benjamin, Painter looked up Dorr Legg, the business manager of the homophile magazine ONE. Painter hoped to get some leads on employment prospects as well as tips on how to meet Hispanics. Unfortunately, Legg was unable to provide much help with either of Painter's concerns. After a month of searching, Painter found a full-time job at Martindale's, a bookstore in downtown Los Angeles. By the end of his first year in Los Angeles, he was ready to return to New York. He believed that he would be safe from Efrian if he avoided the Lower East Side. He hoped he would be able to get his old job back at Doubleday's, a job that was somewhat better paying and less physically strenuous.

In July 1963, just at the time that Painter was making plans to return to New York, he became entangled in a brief affair that seriously complicated his life and prevented him from leaving Los Angeles. He had met Alika, a Hawaiian who had been in Los Angeles for about a year and managed to support himself through odd jobs and hustling. One night while staying with Painter, Alika excused himself to go out for cigarettes. A half hour later when he did not return, Painter became suspicious and checked his pants pocket to see if Alika had taken his money. His money was still there, but the key for Martindale's that he kept in his pocket was missing. Alarmed, he quickly walked over to the store and found the door unlocked. locked. He checked where the previous day's money was kept and saw that it had been taken (about $500). He then returned home and found Alika, who had come back. At first Alika denied any connection with the theft but eventually broke down and admitted his involvement. He gave the key back to Painter as well as his payment of $35 for his part in the break-in; the rest of the money had gone to the two friends who actually carried out the robbery. Painter persuaded Alika to try and retrieve the stolen money from his friends, threatening that if Alika was not back in an hour he would call the police. Painter had hoped that Alika would be back with the money by 5A.M., which would have given him enough time to return it to the store before someone came around to collect the daily cash. At the agreed-upon time, Alika did not show up and Painter realized that he had to call the police to protect himself.

After contacting the police, Painter was questioned at the store and, without revealing his sexual relationship with Alika, gave the detectives the details behind the theft. A warrant was put out for Alika's arrest, but apparently Alika and his partners in crime had fled the Los Angeles area and were not caught. This lessened the possibility for Painter that his homosexuality mosexuality would be revealed to the police, but he was still not exonerated ated from being implicated in the theft. He was called back by the police for a polygraph test, which he failed. Indeed, his failure was not surprising since he had to hide the sexual nature of his relationship with Alika. Painter was especially wary about the Los Angeles Police Department because cause Chief William Parker publicly advocated jail terms for known "sexual ual deviates" (homosexuals). The detectives indicated that they did not think he actually committed the theft, but, on the other hand, they believed that he was an accessory to the crime and knew the whereabouts of Alika and the money. Consequently, he was arrested and subjected to further questioning. Suspecting that he might have had a sexual liaison with Alika, the detectives inquired if he had ever been married, if he knew any "girls," and if either he or Alika had any "sexual trouble." After being detained for four days without being charged, he was released from jail. At this time he learned that he had been fired from Martindale's. Fortunately he qualified for unemployment insurance since there were no conditions placed on his jail release. Nevertheless, he realized that because of the incident his job prospects would be very limited. Moreover, he had heard no word about the possibility of returning to Doubleday's, and even if there was an offer, he had no money for his trip back to New York.

After about two weeks of unemployment, Painter was hired as an orderly derly at Pine Tree Lodge, a private sanitarium for the mentally ill and aged. It was located in La Crescenta, a Los Angeles suburb. He lived on the premises and hoped to earn enough in two months so that he could return to New York. Although he was physically isolated, he found the work tolerable. erable. After two months had passed, however, he decided to remain at Pine Tree since he had been promoted to assistant charge attendant. This position held the promise of learning career skills in medical administration tion that would give him access to jobs anywhere in America. This breakthrough through was dashed in January when he was infected with a skin condition from the patients and, as a result, was laid off. He was given a month's pay and placed on disability compensation. With this latest setback-another other "twist of the rope"-he was once again depressed and unsure about the future.

In the spring of 1964 he nearly starved himself to death, unable to find employment or any source of income while in Los Angeles. After literally getting back on his feet, Painter obtained a telephone solicitation licitation job in Santa Monica, selling subscriptions to the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. As it was based on commissions, he was not very optimistic mistic about being able to stay with it. In fact, he was fired after five days. He decided that it was time to leave Los Angeles, provided he could get his job back at Doubleday's.

Painter arrived in New York in June 1964. Not long after he started a relationship with a male hooker, Gilbert. His relationship with Gilbert represented the ultimate timate triumph of his life. He finally experienced reciprocated same-sex love, an experience he initially believed was unattainable because of society's ety's prohibitions and the internalized homophobia of gay men.

Aside from Gilbert, he had few friends. Charlie P., a retired broadcasting executive whom he had known since the late 1930s but rarely saw in recent years, died in 1972. In the winter of 1973, he complained of health problems. He had emphysema, the result of a life history of heavy smoking. He was still working at Doubleday's and one evening almost collapsed on the way home. Another time he had a similar experience but felt safe because he was with Gilbert. He admitted, however, that he did not like to be dependent on another person. He feared the consequences of having to spend another winter in New York because of the danger of cold weather to his condition.

As his health deteriorated, Gilbert increasingly came to his aid. Eventually Gilbert's mother also helped. Painter was appreciative, preciative, and shortly before he went into a Veterans Administration hospital, pital, he asked Gebhard from the Kinsey Institute, who was visiting him, for a favor. Painter would name the Institute as the beneficiary for his $1.000 life insurance policy if the Institute would give him a check for that amount, which he would then pass on to Gilbert. Gebhard agreed and Painter was able to give the money to Gilbert. Painter died on 7 July 1978, at age seventy-two. After his death, Gebhard discovered that Painter's policy was void because he had stopped paying the premiums. Was this lapse intentional? Probably not, although as in the case of Harry Benjamin, Painter had a record of not paying his debts to a researcher friend. In his state of deteriorating health, he may not have been able to mentally keep track of his financial affairs, or with his meager income, he could no longer keep up the payments. His major concern cern was being able to leave something for Gilbert-the person who had mattered most in his life.

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