746 CARD STUD
While a few significant peaks broke the surface, homosexuality prior to the 1950s was a vast ocean of the unknowable. Gay culture, if it existed at all in records, was told in police reports and scandal sheet headlines. Enter Samuel Steward, a poet, teacher, tattoo artist and pornographer, who’s Stud File — a record of his tricks from the 20s through the 70s — was a centerpiece of Alfred Kinsey’s research on sexuality.
Steward had a prolific sexual history and he documented it religiously. At 16, he claims he seduced Rudolph Valentino; later, as a professor in Chicago his love life was dominated by sailors and street trade. The 746-card Stud File documents each of his lovers, with annotations as to when and where, and ratings of the experience. He presented it to Kinsey in an early interview and, at Kinsey’s request began keeping a confessional journal that documents how gay male sexual culture was conducted in the years before liberation.
The Stud File and the journal later became the touchstone of biographer Justin Spring’s fascinating account of Steward’s life, Secret Historian (Farrar, Straus and Giraux, 2010). It resides in the Kinsey Institute archives in Indiana.