Barry Reay
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Sex in the archives
David Louis Bowie’s New York diaries, 1978–93
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This chapter deals with some very queer diaries in the New York Public Library, the David Louis Bowie Diaries, 1978–93. These descriptions of New York sex in the periods before and after AIDS consist of text, drawings, and photographs, including information on drug taking, numerous clubs (The Mineshaft was one of Bowie’s haunts), a great amount of casual sex, and material dealing with the New York fisting scene. They are not philosophical or romantic reminiscences but sex diaries. The chapter deals both with a described sexual world and the source that represents it. The diaries are a chronicle. But they are also sexual objects, Bowie’s own sexual archive. He was aroused both by the memories they stored and his textual and visual renderings. He refers to masturbating to his drawings – even while executing them. The archive is imbricated in its recorded sexual encounters in intriguing ways. The archive and sex are indistinguishable here.

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Sex in the archives

Writing American sexual histories

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