Vassi, Marco

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Vassi, Marco Gender: M
Marco Ferdinand William Vasquez-d'Acugno Vassi
born on 6 November 1937 at 04:15 (= 04:15 AM )
Place New York, New York, 40n43, 74w0
Timezone EST h5w (is standard time)
Data source
From memory
Rodden Rating A
Collector: Rodden
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_scocol.18.gif 13°33' s_mo.18.gif s_sagcol.18.gif 18°26 Asc.s_libcol.18.gif 15°47'


American writer and revolutionary sex explorer of the 1960s to ‘80s, famed for his high-quality pornographic novels. A highly promiscuous bisexual (he estimated that in his lifetime he had sex with 1,000 women and 2,000 men), Vassi contracted AIDS and he died on 1/14/1989.

David Steinberg writes on his site:

"He was the author of 13 novels, hundreds of articles and short stories, poems, plays, and assorted riff raff. His books were published for the most part by trash porn houses -- presses like Banner Books, Manor Books, Carlyle Communications, Pleasure Books. Olympia Press, who first published Henry Miller in this country, got Marco into writing and published some of his work, but he never really made it in mainstream publishing, at least with his sex writing. His publishers would pay him a few thousand dollars to produce formulaic porn tracts, and from Marco's point of view, that's what he did. But there is something unique about his writing, about the way he spoke of sex and all the complications and contusions that come from entering the realm of the sexual as fully as possible. As fantastic and exaggerated as his stories and novels often are, there is something undeniably genuine, intriguing -- even profound -- that distinguishes Marco's writing from the other pulp novels of that time (the 70s and early 80s).

"What is most important to me about Marco is that he was one of those rare people who choose to make sex the organizing principle for their lives, no matter what the consequences might be. By his own accounting, Marco delved into the sexual world as deeply and broadly as anyone ever has. Sex with women. Sex with men. Sex with various numbers of partners, and in various combinations. Fierce sex. Tender sex. Intimate sex. Casual sex. Anonymous sex. Fetish play. Power play. Gender play. S&M. Loving sex. Cruel sex.

"Sex for Marco wasn't just about getting laid (except sometimes), not just a question of neurons and orgasms. For Marco sex was a lens on life itself, a magnifying glass through which the dynamics and foibles of being human become intensified, and so his pursuit of sexual knowledge and experience took on the color of a philosophical quest. He saw himself at once as the Avatar of Eros and an eager student of Zen enlightenment. "Sex is a key to doorways of knowing," Marco wrote. "For me it has been a yoga through which new qualities of self evolved. Like the alchemist who works with a potion for decades and in the process brings about a transmutation of his essence, I spent all my conscious life since the age of eight mixing elements in the crucible of sex, sifting enormous amounts of material to produce a few grams of pure substance. I had fucked or been fucked by over five hundred different women, and twice that many men, in circumstances ranging from brief graspings in alleys and whorehouses to lengthy relationships. I had gone through all the possible scenarios. And with the suddenness of total change, I became a different kind of person. At the far end of bisexuality I realized that all that had gone before was but the task of perfecting the instrument, the mindbody that is myself. My adventures had served a single purpose: to exhaust all the subjective aspects of the sexual act. The many modes, which had been challenges, areas of exploration, were now my tools -- homosexuality, heterosexuality, bisexuality, abstruse psychosexual states and practices, the so-called perversions, the many masks of libidinal displacement... these were now at my command, to be used the way a director uses a cast of characters to realize a vision."

"Not surprisingly, Marco's vision, the sense of life that emerged from his far-reaching sexual explorations, was anything but simple. Marco was a lover of irony and contradiction. In his life as in his writing, he created situations that gained power from their inherent contradictions, and he would emphasize the topsy-turvy nature of reality every chance he got. He knew, for example, that every lover, every circumstance, every moment, is uniquely magical. And he knew equally well at the same time that, in another sense, all partners are interchangeable and ultimately meaningless. "In the end," Marco liked to say, "we are all just fucking ourselves anyway."

"Why have any partners at all?" Marco asks in one short story about a woman who locks herself in a darkened room for weeks, to explore the inner recesses of her sexual nature. "Orgasm is the quintessentially private experience," she decides. "The notion that we must share it with others is the final corruption of what's left of civilization."

"Almost every bit of Marco's writing has a twist, a jab, a way of saying that things are not what they seem, not what we like to pretend they are. He is, in this sense, a true Sadeian. He writes the perfect New York subway fantasy (carried, it seems, by every man who rode the subways as a teenager, pressed belly to belly up against untold numbers of perfumed strangers in the sardine can of rush hour) in which a man and a woman gradually become aware of each other, approach, touch, become increasingly sexual -- only to have the woman turn out to be an undercover cop who busts the man for molestation."

"In another story, a man who is attracted to other men, yet not wanting to be homosexual, undergoes a sex change operation only to discover that after his transformation he is now only attracted to women. In yet another, a woman goes through the ultimate psychosexual therapeutic catharsis, transcends her debilitating paranoia's, only to be run down by a bus as she crosses the street, totally free from fear. In The Other Hand Clapping, perhaps his finest (though least sexual) novel, there are so many twists and turns on the nature of reality, jealousy, theatre, and life, that by the end the reader is in a state of pure ecstatic vertigo."

"As a person, Marco was no less contradictory than his writing. He was at times able to give another person complete and absolutely focused love and attention, and at other times so self-absorbed and inaccessible as to be totally infuriating. He could at one moment be open to all the complexities of multi-partner relationships, free of possessiveness, ego, and the like, and then descend in a matter of hours into simpleminded jealous tantrums hardly worthy of a TV soap opera. He was able to look the most complex, difficult truths -- about sex, about relationship, about life -- directly in the eye, yet he was often unable to sustain even the most elementary forms of honesty and compassion with partners and friends. "

"He was thus, to me, the finest sort of hero: the wise man who is also a goat, the monkey who is also a monk. During the final months of his life, after he was diagnosed HIV-positive, Marco went into a deep depression that put him beyond the reach of even his closest friends. He wandered from east coast to west, tried to commit suicide twice, was continuously morose (despite his relatively good physical health), and totally self-absorbed. He did not, in other words, take to dying gracefully. He did not die like a hero with a capital H. He was, you could say, a bad sport about it. A (suddenly) very ordinary human being. Just another guy afraid, confused, and, largely by his own construction, surprisingly alone."

"I saw Marco for the last time in August of 1988, at Annie Sprinkle's apartment, where he was spending much of his time. I went to show him my new book, Erotic by Nature, which included a story of his, and to give him his contributor's copy. He looked through the book carefully - - the photographs and the stories -- taking time with each page. He saw it for what it was. He liked it. He appreciated its quietness, its depth, its complexity. Then he went off to his PWA support group. That winter, he spent a day walking around New York in the snow with practically no clothes on, caught pneumonia, and secluded himself in his room. When friends finally located him weeks later (letting the phone ring for a half hour until he finally answered), he was all but gone. A flurry of phone calls got him to a hospital and the indignity of being connected to a bevy of minimally life-sustaining machines. On January 14, 1989, he died.

"And so, four years down the road, I (for one) offer my thanks to Marco for all of who he was -- the wisdom and the folly, the light and the immense darkness, the times of transcendence and the times of sheer imbecility -- and for what he was able to write down, to give to the rest of us to do with what we will."

[Twelve of Marco's erotic novels, long out of print, will be re-issued during 1993 by The Permanent Press. More about this in a future column.]

Link to Wikipedia biography



  • Mental Health : Depressive episode August 1988 (Last months of his life, depressed and alone)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death by Disease 14 January 1989 in New York (AIDS, age 51)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

Filipe Ferreira quotes David Steinberg, Vassi's friend and coworker on his website:


  • Diagnoses : Major Diseases : Aids
  • Diagnoses : Psychological : Depression (Dying depression)
  • Passions : Sexuality : Bi-Sexual
  • Passions : Sexuality : Extremes in quantity (All kinds of sex)
  • Vocation : Science : Sociology (Study of human sex)
  • Vocation : Sex Business : Porno Market (Wrote porno)
  • Vocation : Writers : Erotic (13 novels and more)