The Road to Hollywood in the 1920s
It’s been four years since I first began researching the nineteen-twenties for the Gin & Jazz series. It was three months of delving behind the scenes of the silent film stars, scandals and excesses of early Hollywood, the popular stars of vaudeville on Broadway, the speakeasies and even down to how much a cup o’ joe was. The slang of the era and regional colloquialisms were vital as well, since the story begins on the mean streets of New York and the Broadway District before making its way to the West Coast.
More importantly, I needed to understand the context in which gay men lived during that period of history. It was a tricky time since the Roaring Twenties challenged all the leftover constraints of the Victorian era in addition to giving conservatism the collective finger. The backlash against prohibition was huge, and like kids who are told they can’t have something, everyone subsequently wanted it ten-fold. Add in the sudden influx of easy money in Hollywood—a fantasy location that marched to its own tune—and life in the Celluloid Kingdom exploded into debauched chaos.
While studio-sanctioned Will Hays was demanding film censorship to appease outraged Middle-America, the stars, flappers and mobsters went about their business guzzling hooch, snorting cokey, and partying in speakeasies. Within the world of performers and entertainers, it was much easier to live openly. Lavender parties were popular gatherings for gay men and as long as they had a beard—in other words, a willing wife—they could live how they pleased behind closed doors. However, it could also work both ways. It was rumored that Ramon Novarro married Pola Negri because she was a lesbian, so the arrangements was a win-win all the way around.
Speaking of Ramon, I loosely based my silent film star character, Roman Pasquale on him. Novarro was a handsome and seductive leading man who caused many women (and men) to swoon both on and off screen. I wanted Roman Pasquale to have that same smoldering charisma that makes men and women fall at his feet, but for my character, he’s also hardened his heart due to a tragic, secret past. Only one person can reach his soul, and that’s the main protagonist of the first four books in the series, Jack Stone.
Jack Stone is an orphan who was kicked out of the boy’s home at age sixteen because he was caught with another boy. He’s fearful for his future, and has an openness and innocence that would be so easy for people to take advantage of. So, when he lands in New York City to make his way in the world, the first person he meets is Nick Gerard. Nick’s a regular blue-collar guy from Philly who’s a few years older than Jack, and who has a job working in his uncle’s vaudeville theater Off-Broadway.
Nick feels sorry for the kid when he runs across him at the train station, so helps him out by getting him a job at his uncle’s place. Eventually, they’re inseparable, but while Jack has fallen in love with Nick over the years, Nick maintains that he ‘ain’t no queer’ and has told Jack that there’s no hope for them as a couple. Nick does talk Jack into going with him to Hollywood where he maintains they’ll be rich in no time. Instead of being a couple of palookas building sets in a crummy theatre that’s falling apart, they can be making tons of scratch by working with the swells in motion pictures. But on the train ride there, Nick finally allows his true feelings for Jack to be known.
Sometimes dreams can become more like nightmares. The first four books of the Gin & Jazz series, which begins with Hollywood Bound, follow Jack Stone’s journey to true love. They feature a love triangle, glitz and glamor, drama and surprises. But the most important element is love, and what one young man has to endure before he can understand what really matters in life. I hope you take Jack’s journey with him, and then follow-up with the rest of the characters in this seven-book series which on sale right now as well. As always, my men get their happily-ever-afters, but these true loves set against the backdrop of the silent film era are hard fought and hard won.
About the Gin & Jazz Series
It’s the silent film era of Hollywood and young, innocent Jack fights for love amid the heady allure of fame, gin and easy money. Can the newfound bond between Jack and Nick survive the tawdry mess that makes up the glitz and glamour of the celluloid kingdom, or will their own secrets tear them apart forever? Follow Jack’s journey to true love that begins with Hollywood Bound.
Jack is on the verge of silent film stardom, but Hollywood glory won’t heal his broken heart. A seductive screen idol and a conniving starlet create even more havoc in Jack’s troubled life and he places his trust in all the wrong people. Will a love that borders on obsession finally bring Jack true happiness?
The pressures of being on the silver screen and being the lover of a demanding movie idol are difficult for the sensitive Jack to handle, and Roman’s increasingly erratic behavior only adds to his stress. Unwanted attention from other men and a startling revelation from movie star Trixie Fox adds to Jack’s confusion. All he’s ever wanted is true love, so how can he give up on Roman and the star’s promises of forever?
Right as Jack feels that his future is looking brighter, a terrible tragedy occurs. But out of his despair, a new hope is born. Jack is given a second chance—one he never would have thought possible. As Jack’s blissful new life unfolds with his lover by his side, an unexpected visitor from the past threatens his new-found peace. It’s time for Jack to make his final choice.
The head of Global Pictures Studios, Vincent Franklin, promised Jack Stone that he would take care of Jack’s loyal driver, Juan. But for a dominant man like Vincent, Juan’s natural submissiveness causes him to long for much more from the shy young man.
Will Carmichael, an impossibly handsome silent film star, longs for the broodingly intense director André Chenard. But as they take the tentative steps toward true love, an outside threat drives a wedge between them. As a result, they may have more to worry about than lost love—the threat could be to their very lives. Can they find their way to each other despite the hidden perils of the prohibition era?
Former screen idol, Roman Pasquale, struggles to survive in Hollywood as the silent film era comes to a close. But a fresh new playwright is in town and he wants Roman to be more than just his star. Is their lust really love? Or will the drive for success destroy any hope they have for a happily-ever-after?
About the Author
Morticia Knight spends most of her nights writing about men loving men forever after.
If there happens to be some friendly bondage or floggings involved, she doesn’t begrudge her characters whatever their filthy little heart’s desire. Even though she’s been crafting her naughty tales for more years than she’d like to share – her adventures as a published author began in 2011.Once upon a time she was the lead singer in an indie rock band that toured the West Coast and charted on U.S. college radio. She currently resides on the northern Oregon coast and when she’s not fantasizing about hot men she takes walks along the ocean and annoys the local Karaoke bar patrons.