Gilmartin’s prints consistently interweave the visual and the verbal. The “Queer Words” series explores the multiple meanings of Queer slang – retooled epithets, secret codes, and camp – as a record of creative resistance. Her “Pulps” are faux pulp fiction covers: art for novels she’s invented that are set in 1950s San Francisco and celebrate the city’s history. In writing blurbs for these fabricated novels, Gilmartin engaged deeply with the aesthetics of pulp fiction and noir. Gradually, the text outgrew the prints and became an actual novel: Blackmail, My Love, which is being published by Cleis Press in November of 2014.
Blackmail, My Love is an illustrated noir mystery set in San Francisco in the Dark Ages of Queerdom: 1951. Josie O’Conner searches for her brother, a private dick who disappeared while investigating a blackmail ring targeting lesbians and gay men. Josie adopts Jimmy’s trousers and wingtips as well as his investigation, battling to clear his name, halt the blackmailers, and exact justice for the mounting number of Queer corpses. Along the way she rubs shoulders with a sultry chanteuse running a dyke tavern called Pandora’s Box; gets intimate with a red-headed madame operating a brothel from the Police Personnel Department; and conspires with the star of Finocchio’s, a dive so disreputable it's off limits to servicemen – so every man in uniform pays a visit.