By John Preston
A classic of modern gay S/M fiction, Mr. Benson is the compelling story of a young man’s quest for the perfect master. In a West Village leather bar, he finds wealthy, sophisticated, exacting Aristotle Benson, who leads him down the path of erotic enlightenment, teaching him to accept cruelty as love, anguish as affection, and ultimately, Mr. Benson as his master.
If John Preston, the masterly, handsome author of more than 30 books, was himself a gay icon, his character Mr. Benson defined the culture of gay sex for an entire generation. When Mr. Benson first appeared in the pre-AIDS early 1980s, its unabashed celebration of male sexuality made it a cult favorite among gay men, many of whom wore T-shirts declaring that they were “looking for Mr. Benson.” The novel’s fresh voice and insights into identity, desire, power, and love influenced a generation of writers and editors, including Anne Rice, Samuel Delany, Michael Lowenthal, Laura Antoniou, and Joan Nestle.