Lisa Ben and Vice Versa
One of the pleasures, many pleasures, of research is stumbling on the unknown. So, I’ve been reading a bit about the 1940s, trying to Understand the context for Dark Dominion, Marianne Hauser’s first novel in English, published in 1947. WOLFWOMEN AND PHANTOM LADIES, by Steven Dillon is a recent academic book about pop culture and women’s desire in the 40’s, which is right up my alley, and in that book I found a reference to the first lesbian magazine, Vice Versa, hand-typed (with carbon paper) by the editor, Lisa Ben (pseudonym), and given to her friends. Each issue (there were 10 in all) was distributed to about 10 people, who passed it on. Ben has been recognized, lauded, and documented, but I’d never heard of her, and spent Sunday morning reading Vice Versa online. Dillon’s book is absorbing, clearly written and intelligent, so I’m really looking forward to finishing it. I was a bit disappointed that Hauser, whose Dark Dominion is mentioned in it, in a chapter on women’s magazines, some how eludes the index! This is one of the very few critical works to even mention Dark Dominion.