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There are lots of reasons. First off, that phrase, that title captures the spirit of the 50's and 60's lesbian paperbacks I collect. It's easy to imagine the words being spoken in hushed tones, one eyebrow raised, under late-night streetlights: "Hey mac, get a load of those strange sisters." Secondly, the sibilance of the two words is certainly satisfying and appropriately hush-hush (though subtlety was certainly not a strongpoint for much of the genre's artwork). Thirdly, no fewer than four lesbian paperbacks (with five distinct covers between them) have the title Strange Sisters: one by Fletcher Flora (published with two different covers), one by David Key, another by Robert Turner, and one by Sheri Blue (purportedly a pseudonym of Ed Wood, Jr.)

Fast forward three decades to Jaye Zimet's book with the appropriately appropriated title Strange Sisters: The Art of Lesbian Pulp Fiction 1949 - 1969. Published by Viking in 1999, this was the first book specifically focused on the two key decades for this genre's artwork. As soon as the book hit the shelves, I got calls... "have you seen it?!". Anyone who'd seen my room full of paperbacks (including a floor-to-ceiling velcro wall display with about 350 books attached) knew Zimet's book was a book for me. I was thrilled to see someone had put forth the effort of compiling some great covers AND had found a publisher to foot the bill. Bravo! Zimet's book was thoughtfully and lovingly executed. It was done by a fan, a connoisseur... it's easy to tell. I added a couple of books to my want list and was happy to see dozens of top-notch covers showcased for the world. Still, I couldn't help but think of the books I had that were NOT included... literally hundreds of wild covers, many as good and certainly more outrageous than the ones Zimet included.

A disappointing sequel of sorts would follow Strange Sisters with the publication of Susan Stryker's lamely titled Queer Pulp in 2001. Stryker had compiled the Lesbian Pulp and Gay Pulp address books the year previous and had been encouraged to follow up with a full-blown book. While providing some decent historical context, Queer Pulp's couples a pitiful artwork selection (with poor color reproduction, I might add) with the kind of shallow generalizing and academic analysis that makes me want to stomp in circles around a burning copy of Dick Hebdige's Subculture: The Meaning of Style. But one of endless examples: "The extensive use of black on these covers thus subtly suggested the psychological horror a straight mind might experience when confronted with bisexual menage a trois and the prospect of homosexuality." It's a good thing I got the book for free.

And so with two books out there already, my perpetually postponed coffee-table-book-to-end-all-coffee-table-books (perhaps The Strangest Sisters?) would certainly be redundant, that is if it ever got out of the planning stage. And besides, my collection's still not finished... the want list suffers from the hydra effect. Cut off one book and two more previously unknown titles inevitably grow back in its place. A book full of classic lesbian paperbacks would always been incomplete. A website, then, was the only thing that made sense. In the cybersquatting world of domain names, I was surprised to find what I consider the quintessential lesbian paperback title still available. And so strangesisters.com was born.