3 min

Ever greater floods of cream

Purpling prose by the bucketful

Credit: Xtra files

Remember gladiator movies? I’m talking pre-Russell Crowe, pre-relentless grunt and gore slaughter fest. There was a time when just about every Saturday afternoon offered a spear-and-sandal epic on the cathode ray tube, something starring Steve Reeves or Kirk Douglas or (gag) Charlton Heston and a supporting cast of bronze-limbed Hollywood gym bunnies with Brylcreemed hairdos. What gay boy raised in the 1950s, ’60s or ’70s doesn’t recall ignoring clunky plots and wooden dialogue to focus on bulging thighs and delicious flashes of leather-thonged buttock during sweaty fight scenes?

Well, pine no more for those family-viewing soft porn classics. In his novel Legion Of Lust, UK writer Lukas Scott lifts the offscreen homo subtext from Spartacus and lays it on the page. We open with young Titus, a Roman lad newly recruited into the Imperial Army and posted to boot camp in the northern wilds of Germania. There he takes a competitive shine to an older recruit, Julius, whose constant goading irks Titus even as it incites surges of desire. By page 14, we’re witnessing the naughty scenes we longed for from all those beefy extras in Edith Head centurion skirts. Spying on a secret meeting in a prefect’s tent, “Titus was himself becoming aroused as he watched Julius close his eyes and suck hard and long on the proffered organ.” Prefect Tetricus is initiating Julius into a secret society honouring “Mithras the Bull-Slayer.” Pondering the ineffable, Titus slips off into the darkness to subdue his own raging organ.

Then the new conscripts are shipped off to slay unruly Celts. On the stormy voyage to Britain, Julius saves Titus from being washed overboard by the crashing waves. Later in the hold, exhausted, they doze affectionately next to each other and Titus wakes to see Julius stroking his dick under his tunic. Soon Julius has a throbbing cock in each hand: “Nice weapon, soldier.”

Next we meet Coll and Llew, a young Druid couple devoted to avenging the suicide death of their queen, Boudicca, after the defeat of her armies by the Romans. Llew and Coll have shared a hovel long enough to be irritated with each other’s quirks. “But it was more than that: Coll knew that Llew’s spirit had changed. He had lost the Celtic fire that had burned in him for so many years.” Evidently Llew is being seduced by imperial power and swagger, “the lure of the Roman cities… citizenship beckoning.” Llew even refers admiringly to “The New Order.” It’s a nice moment for readers who appreciate a political edge in their erotic fiction – a resonant echo of American “New World Order” propaganda during George Bush Sr’s presidency.

Meanwhile, we’ve been given a ringside seat at Titus’s initiation into the Mithras cult. In a dark and dank stone temple lit with flaming torches, Titus is bound and laid out on an altar while six other candidates – a smorgasbord of skin colours, ages and body types – stand in a circle around him and prove their “manhood and control.” All must jerk themselves to orgasm onto Titus’s upturned face, with the last one to shoot his spunk declared the winner. Titus gets marinated in a multicultural béchamel sauce – a piquant appetizer to the platters of rare beef and flagons of wine brought on to conclude the ritual.

In Roman Britain, it’s easy to accept the unfettered, worry-free exchange of body fluids. The sex here is all about engaging with life at its apex of primal raunchiness. An orgy at a Roman villa near the soldiers’ garrison includes mix-and-match straight and queer couplings without a hint of hesitation on any side. Still, Scott’s (and Titus’s) deepest longing is for ever more man meat, ever greater floods of cream.

Scott’s thematic agenda emerges fully with the wounding of Titus during a Celtic raid – witnessed by Coll – and Coll’s decision to carry the wounded Roman back to his private camp and nurse him back to health. Inevitably, their proximity spurs another four-page grapple-and-spurt scene. But this one ends in true love. Sworn enemies are disarmed by the power of shared desire. A nice idea, but it comes off more as a rosy-hued authorial distortion of the darker reality Scott has already evoked.

Scott’s narrative climax is also (surprise) another carnal one. After much misadventure and the near death of Coll in a fire set by avenging Romans, Titus and Coll become estranged. They next meet at Stonehenge on the morning of the summer solstice. Titus is now bent on slaying Coll, fulfilling orders from his prefect, but the offer of a kiss from Coll melts him like butter. The book’s final ejaculations arc through the air as dawn’s rosy light peeks over Salisbury plain and casts its healing rays on our reunited heroes. Glazed with man juice, they join hands and walk together toward the rising sun.


Lukas Scott.

Zipper Books.

211 pages. $19.95.