Cover image for Outlaw : the lives and careers of John Rechy
Outlaw : the lives and careers of John Rechy
Casillo, Charles.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Los Angeles : Advocate Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
309 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3568.E28 Z623 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This enlightening biography provides an absorbing picture of the outlaw writer, examining Rechy's life as both a respected author and professor and a tough-as-nails sex worker. Working closely with Rechy himself as well as his family, friends, admirers and colleagues, Casillo presents a complex portrait of a man who found sexual liberation through prostitution and used it to create a vivid and influential artistic legacy.

Author Notes

Charles Casillo is the author of the novel The Marilyn Diaries and the biography Outlaw: The Lives and Careers of John Rechy. His writing has appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, New York magazine, and the Los Angeles Times. He

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

John Rechy's 1963 debut, City of Night, a thinly fictionalized account of his adventures in male hustling from one end of the country to the other, was a milestone in American gay literature. But even as Rechy, who had grown up in the Mexican slums of El Paso, Tex., became a literary darling, he continued having sex for money and went to great lengths to keep his two worlds separate. This biography by L.A.-based journalist and novelist Casillo (The Marilyn Diaries), written with extensive cooperation from his subject, is most engrossing when it focuses on the years immediately before and after that initial success, when Rechy was constantly testing his personal and creative limits. As he makes the transition from dazzling young writer to literary icon, the anecdotes become much less interesting. Casillo doesn't delve much into the psychological aspects of Rechy's sexuality beyond hinting at the possibility of childhood sexual abuse by his domineering father, and while some might look at Rechy's behavior as a pattern of sexual addiction, the biography merely ventures that one novel, depicting the author's quest to seduce 30 men in quick succession, indicates an "excessive attachment to sex." Given the raw, primal quality of the frequent excerpts from Rechy's fiction, it's disappointing that the biographer's prose can't rise to the occasion; clichs like "one of those budding sexual experiences when the universe conspires with you and everything falls into place" are all too common. This respectful life story will confirm Rechy's status among literary critics and will undoubtedly reintroduce him to a new generation of gay readers, but it lacks the oomph for mainstream success. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

It may be a clich to say an author has lived a life as colorful as any of his characters, but that is true of John Rechy if anyone. Born in the barrios of Depression-era El Paso, TX, he escaped his hardscrabble roots via intelligence and physical beauty, hiding his delicate sensibilities behind the macho facade of a tough street hustler. He eventually turned his demimonde experiences into provocative prose in a series of novels beginning with City of Night (1963). The transition from male prostitute to respected author and teacher, however, was uneasy, as he continued to sell his body on the streets while chastely hobnobbing with celebrities like Christopher Isherwood and Liberace. Rechy's story virtually writes itself, and Casillo (The Marilyn Diaries) wisely lets it do so, remaining sympathetic but not sycophantic as he adeptly conveys the schizoid quality of Rechy's life. Bolstered by excerpts from Rechy's works, with some tantalizing glimpses of his unpublished writings, this biography should pique interest in both the writer and his work and is highly recommended, especially for libraries with strong gay and lesbian literary collections.-Richard J. Violette, Special Libs. Cataloguing Inc., Victoria, B.C. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.