Continued from Part I.
In 1963, Susanna and Marie sold their resort property as it was unprofitable. In early 1964 they bought another 150 acre property with a large house, again in the Catskills, close to Hunter, New York. This became Casa Susanna, and like the Chevalier D’Eon Resort was frequented by the transvestite crowd. Susanna and her guests would go, dressed, to drive-in movies and to friendly neighbours. Some transvestite visitors even went into the village of Hunter for shopping, where, if nothing else, they were noted for being overdressed.
Wollheim became a regular at Casa Susanna and used the name Donna or Doris. He did not drive and so Elsie chauffeured him. The daughter Betsy was sent to summer camp every year for two months for 8 years to avoid awkward questions. In 1964 he announced that he was going out for Halloween as his sister, and spent five hours in the bathroom getting ready – even at age 12 Betsy realized that this was odd.
Siobhan Fredericks in New York, who had quit Virginia Prince’s FPE, started a competing magazine, Turnabout, of which the first issue came out June 1963. It made fun of the many femme* words that Prince had coined, and attracted cross-dressers who were critical of Prince and her ideas. Fredericks also started a support group in her home, to which Harry Benjamin sent some of his patients, including Renée Richards. Wollheim joined the editorial staff, and wrote articles for Turnabout using the pseudonym ‘D. Rhodes’.
In Issue #1 D. Rhodes contributed “How to write a TV story”. It mocked the genre but assumed that ‘TV story’ = forced femininity. He also reviewed the Nan Gilbert booklets – four had been published at that date. He wrote that such ‘petticoat-punishment’ was ‘calculated to grip the fantasies of most transvestites’. He also contributed ‘Turntable’, an assemblage of bits and pieces from newspapers to the early issues.
In Issue #3 he wrote “Overs and Unders” in which he proposes two kinds of male heterosexual transvestites, of both of which he says: “Virtually all recorded cases of transvestism begin as fetishism which demands not only visual or tactile contact with the fetish object but also the actual wearing of it”. The ‘Overs’ first fixate on shoes, the ‘Unders’ first fixate on under garments. “ … the Over is not greatly concerned with his physical surroundings, especially in his living quarters. The dainty details of feminine life hold no great fascination for him and he is likely to be indifferent to any feminine touches in his surroundings. The Under is more likely to be sensitive to suggestions of femininity all about him, such as color and texture. He is quite often more retiring as an individual and not as bold or aggressive as the Over.” … “It is possible that the Over's career interests tend toward the mechanical arts, the applied sciences, artisan skills, or manual labor. The Under is more likely to be the intellectual worker, the creative artist, the practitioner of one of the more abstract professions, or a worker in some area which would follow
logically from his original preoccupation with the unseen as a basis for his imagination. Getting in somewhat deeper, it occurs to me that Overs tend toward the schizoid personality pattern, to include in their ranks the dual-personality types of TV, and to trend more toward homosexuality and transsexualism. On the other hand, the Unders tend toward the manic-depressive pattern, more often become sado-masochistic and melancholic, perhaps even suicidal.”
In Issue #4 he wrote a fantasy of “the year that transvestism caught on” and how the fashion dictated clothing for men and women was reversed.
In Issue #5 Dr Hugo Beigel provided a short article restating the professional opinion that transvestism was not intersex, was a personality disorder and therapy was available. Siobhan Fredericks replied. Shelagh Niles, who often wrote for Transvestia, replied to Rhodes’ article on “Overs and Unders”, partly agreeing, partly adjusting. The same issue contained a short TV fiction by David Grinnell, a pseudonym that Wollheim had previously used for Destination Saturn and Edge of Time.
In 1965, editor Wollheim arranged for Ace Books to publish Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings. He believed that the copyright was invalid because the Houghton Mifflin edition had been bound using pages printed in Britain for the hardcover edition there. By US copyright law the text was therefore public domain in the US. The Ace edition was the first US paperback edition of Tolkien's work. However Ballantine Books soon after published an authorized paperback edition with some minor revisions to renew the copyright, and this became the preferred edition for Tolkien fans.
A Year among the Girls, Wollheim’s memoir of his exploration of the transvestite scene, was published in 1966 by the adventurous publisher Lyle Stuart. Wollheim was of course practised with using pseudonyms, and the book was published as by Darrell G Raynor, but not as by D. Rhodes which would have connected the book to his articles in Turnabout. The book was reprinted as a Lancer paperback in 1968.
Presumably Virginia Prince was not pleased with the book as it sympathized with those who had split from her organizing. Sheila Niles, presumably with Prince’s agreement, reviewed the book in Transvestia, #38.
“In this autobiographical account, the author makes a very serious effort to explore and explain the TV world as he saw it from March 1962 to March 1963. He is an excellent observer and a skilled writer, and it is unfortunate that his viewpoint (more fetishist than TV by his own account) is such as to make his interpretations miss the mark. The good public image of the TV, so carefully built up in the text, is almost completely destroyed by the last chapter - where the author suddenly loses his objectivity and becomes both petulant and spiteful.”
Turnabout #6, Winter 1966, contains D Rhodes’ essay “A random factor in transvestism”, a follow-up to his “Overs and Unders” in Issue #3. After feedback from readers, and reported variations: “One individual would say that he believes himself to be an Under but that he has already adopted and mastered many of the techniques of the Over. On the other hand, an Over will be found to show an interest in the fantasies and preferences of the Under, such as frilly nightgowns and an emphasis on the color pink.” He discusses the impact of a random factor: “The random factor we find here is the measure of closeness to the conscious mind of the thought that life would be better if one had been of the opposite sex … in the Over, this thought is much closer to the surface of the mind, is often quite clearly a conscious desire, and the drive is exerted toward attempting to achieve the impossible”.
In the same issue, Siobhan Fredericks reviewed A Year Among the Girls,
and was very positive:
“This reviewer can say without reservation that this book is the most important study of transvestism to have been published in many years. And in terms of its potential for increasing public understanding of the transvestite's milieu, it is the single most important work ever published. In fast-moving reportorial style, the book presents a sympathetic -- but nonetheless analytical -- “inside” view of the TV phenomenon in terms which the average non-TV reader can readily comprehend and accept.
The author, who happens to be a member of the staff of this magazine, charts out his personal experiences during a single year -- June 1963 to June 1964 [sic] -- in which he first “came out of the closet" and made contact with the TV community so well known to the readers of TURNABOUT and TRANSVESTIA. The events which took place and the personalities which he encountered are thoroughly detailed, as are the effects which these individuals and events had on his own life.
The most amazing thing about A YEAR AMONG THE GIRLS is the accuracy of the author's reportage."
In Turnabout Issue #7, Summer 1966, D Rhodes contributed “In the literature of Transvestism”. He restricts his survey to “literature written especially for transvestically-inclined readers -- and not stories where some-one or other, in order to advance the plot, finds it necessary to don feminine clothing. Such stories are really not TV literature, although it may have some entertainment value for TVs”. He starts with the legendary Miss High Heels, and mainly sticks to forced femininity tales. Ironically he ignores the then newly published I Want What I Want by Geoff Brown, which is positively reviewed elsewhere in the same issue.
In the same issue Siobhan Fredericks wrote about the reception of AYAG:
“DISSENSION IN THE RANKS
One can't help but be amused at the antic behavior of our FPE [Virginia Prince’s term Full Personality Expression – a term used for her national group which had absorbed the Hose and Heel Club] friends and note the way it varies from the official party line as handed down from the Valhallan heights by the male sorority's house organ and fountainhead, TRANSVESTIA. It's refreshing to observe that FPE's attempts to standardize TVism fail so dismally despite stern manifestos and dogmatic directives from on high. Dissension appears rampant among FPEers, and we applaud the rebels for hanging onto their individuality and common sense.
A case in point is the review of Darrell Raynor's A YEAR AMONG THE GIRLS which appeared in a recent TRANSVESTIA, ostensibly authored by FPE Field Commissioner Sheila Niles, who intended to bestow the kiss of death on the book — a book which we lesser mortals view as the greatest thing to happen to TVism since someone thought of cross-dressing. Said Commissar Niles of the book: ‘It's petulant and spiteful.’"
This followed by positive but anonymous quotes from various FPE office holders.
In 1968 Gail’s male persona met and started dating the film star Joan Bennett, and thus disengaged from the transvestite scene.
Also that year, A A Wyn, the owner of Ace Books died, and the company was purchased by a consortium headed by a bank, that had almost no publishing experience. The bills and the authors were not paid, and Wollheim spent most of the time reacting to this rather than publishing books – so he left in 1971. Donald and Elsie founded DAW Books (from his initials). DAW Books was the first mass market specialist science fiction and fantasy fiction publishing house. Most of the writers whom he had developed at Ace went with him to DAW. DAW books were distributed by New American Library. However the NAL objected to Thomas Burnett Swann's How Are the Mighty Fallen, 1974, because of its foregrounding of the Biblical Jonathan and David as gay lovers. (reviews). Wollheim had to fight vigorously to get it released.
Betsy became an associate editor of DAW Books in 1975, and took over the management in 1985.
Donald died in 1990; in 1994 Elsie facing surgery told their daughter everything about her father’s secretive cross-dressing, showing her the AYAG book and boxes of photographs.
Elsie died in 1996
Betsy sold DAW Books in 2022, but continues to work there.
In 2022 Betsy spoke movingly and at length about her father’s cross-dressing and Elsie’s support in the documentary Casa Susanna.
digitaltransgenderarchive.net does not have Turnabout #8 and #9 which probably have contributions from D Rhodes – but I was unable to consult them. #10, “back in circulation again after so long, - six years, almost”, does not mention either D Rhodes or Siobhan Fredericks, and consists mainly of a long rambling (27 pages) anonymous essay. From then on it is a rather different publication.
The best survey of trans literature is of course Peter Farrer’s In Female Disguise, Karn Publications, 1992, which includes excepts from books by authors from Thomas Mallory to Walter Scott to Mark Twain to Conan Doyle. It is a pity that Wollheim never did a survey of trans science fiction – which he presumably could well have done. Back at the end of the previous century there was a long list on the internet of trans SF. I think that I found it on alt.transgendered. What did happen to that?
AYAG:16 Raynor describes himself as “the father of teenagers”. However only one, Betsy, is mentioned in anything that I read, and she, being born in 1951, was not yet teenaged.
The Unders and Overs dichotomy probably has a place in the pre-history of AGP/HSTS. I wonder if either Freund or Blanchard ever read the proposal and thought that they could do better.
While Wollheim did publish William Burroughs and did go to bat for the gay content in Thomas Burnett Swann's How Are the Mighty Fallen, he does blot his copybook with a few queer-phobic comments – although not as badly as say Betty Cowell :
p22 Before the first meeting with Prince, Wollheim notes that Prince is not: “the kind of person I have always bristled at, resented, disliked in the same way that any normal man tends to bristle at the flagrant faggot.”
p30 On first meeting Prince (male persona), Wollheim notes: “I had looked for evidence of effeminacy, and had not found much”.
p47 On first meeting Gail, Wollheim notes: “His voice was deep and masculine. No Faggot this.”
Shelagh or Sheila Niles? She herself equivocated.
The Donald Wollheim bibliography as SF writer and as SF editor is enormous, and cannot be repeated here. The items below refer to his life and to his involvement with transvesting.
For his professional bibliography see ISFDB and SFE.
The Biography of Donald Wollheim (not mentioning Darrell Raynor):
- Sam Moskowitz. The Immortal Storm. Hyperion Press, 1974.
- Damon Knight. The Futurians. John Day, 1977.
- Charles Platt. “Donald A Wollheim” in Dream Makers Volume II: The Uncommon Men and Women Who Write Science Fiction. Berkley Books, 1983.
Fancyclopedia EN,Wikipedia IMDB Library of Congress
By and about Darrell Raynor and D Rhodes:
- D Rhodes. “How to write a TV Story”, “Turntable”, “The Gilbert Booklets”. Turnabout: A Magazine of Transvestism, 1, June 1963: 7-9, 26-7, 28-9. Online.
- D Rhodes. “Turntable”. Turnabout: A Magazine of Transvestism, 2, October 1963. Online.
- D Rhodes. “Overs and Unders”. Turnabout: A Magazine of Transvestism, 3, 1964. Online.
- D Rhodes. “Full Circle”, “Turntable”. Turnabout: A Magazine of Transvestism, 4, 1964. Online.
- Hugo Beigel. “The Myth of the Latent Femininity in the Male”; Shelagh Niles. “Dear Abbé” (On Overs and Under); David Grinnell. “The Hook”. Turnabout: A Magazine of Transvestism, 5, 1965. Online.
- Darrell G Raynor. A Year Among the Girls. Lyle Stuart,1966, Lancer Books, 1968.
- Sheila Niles. “Review of A Year among the Girls”. Transvestia, 38, April 1966. Online.
- D Rhodes. “A Random Factor in Transvestism”; Siobhan Fredericks. “Books … A Year Among the Girls”. Turnabout: A Magazine of Transvestism, 6, Winter 1966. Online.
- D Rhodes. “On the Literature of Transvestism”; Siobhan Fredericks. “Dissension in the Ranks”. Turnabout: A Magazine of Transvestism, 7, Summer 1966: 18-19. Online.
- Katherine Cummings. Katherine’s Diary: The Story of a Transsexual. Beaujon Press, Revised edition, 1993: 135-7, 144, 151, 195, 224.
- Dallas Denny. “Heteropocrisy: The Myth of the Heterosexual Male Crossdresser”. Chrysalis: The journal of Transgressive Gender, 2,3,1996: 23-30. Online.
- Sébastien Lifshitz (dir & scr). Casa Susanna. France/US, 97 mins 2022. Online. Betsy Wollheim talks about her father at 12:50-21:30, 55:59-57:41, 1:10:20-1:17:12.
- Mark Asch. “Casa Susanna (TIFF 2022)”. Screen Slate, September 12th Online.
- James Kleinmann. “ DOC NYC 2022 Film Review: Casa Susanna ★★★ 1/2 ”. The Queer Review, November 11, 2022. Online.
There is No mention of Darrell Raynor in:
- Joanne Meyerowitz. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Harvard University Press, 2002.
- Robert S. Hill. ‘As a man I exist; as a woman I live’: Heterosexual Transvestism and the Contours of Gender and Sexuality in Postwar America. PhD Dissertation. University of Michigan. 2007.
- Peter Farrer. Cross Dressing since the War: Selections from Justice Weekly 1955-1972. Karn Publications, 2011.
The copyright on A Year Among the Girls was held by Lyle Stuart – perhaps to protect Wollheim’s identity.
Other books published by Lyle Stuart:
- The Secret Life of Walter Winchell(1953)
- Fidel Castro. History Will Absolve Me,
- Edward Sagarin. The Anatomy of Dirty Words. 1962.
- Penelope Ashe (Mike McGrady et al). Naked Came the Stranger.
- William Powell, The Anarchist Cookbook, 1970 (how to make bombs)
- Patricia Morgan as told to Paul Hoffman. The Man-Maid Doll.Lyle Stuart, Inc 1973.
- The Turner Diaries, 1997. (a reissue of the white-supremacist dystopian novel, with an introduction disagreeing with the attitude of the novel, but advocating freedom of the press and opposing censorship)