Ventures in Publishing and Media

While teaching at Mary Washington College, Womack made a very profitable investment in a stock promotion that allowed him to leave teaching and go into business. Having acknowledged his own homosexuality and separated from his second wife in 1946, Womack had already been involved in publishing, having taken over in 1955 a small Washington DC press publishing erotica and created Guild Press. Womack's windfall funded the acquisition of a printing plant at 507 8th St SE in the mid-1960s which became the center of his publishing business. About the same time, Womack also bought the house at 700 E St SE which became a stop on the Capitol Hill house and gardens tour. As his publishing business expanded, Womack also acquired a home in the Linkhorn area of Virgina Beach, VA. In the late 1970s, after being banned from Washington, DC, he lived on East Ocean View Drive in Norfolk

During his long career in private education, Professor Womack pursued a career in publishing and distributing an inventory of gay adult book and magazine titles through his Guild Press. Womack was still teaching, at Mary Washington College, in 1960 when Guild Press was printing physique and art magazines and providing a national mail order business and he was fighting his major obscenity law case.

The Womack media empire included not only Guild Press and its mail order distribution clubs but a chain of bookstores, Village Books, which ultimately had outlets along the East Coast. In DC, there were Village Books outlets at 819 13 St NW (just up from the Brass Rail) and at 14th and H Streets NW. In the early 1970s, he also opened the Mark I bookstore (1222 K St NW) and the Mark II gay cinema (808 K St NW) in Washington, DC.

Behind the red door of the Guild Press building on 8th St SE were headquartered the printing service, the book distribution services (Grecian Guild and Guild Book Service), the Potomac News Service, Media Arts Advertising and Public Relations, and the administration of the bookstores. Through the 1960s and 1970s, Womack ran his businesses through partners and subordinates J J Proferes (also owner of DC's Metropole Cinema), Henry Pryba, and Raymond Pechin.

The Guild's mail order business brought slected publications to members of the services. Guild Book Service distributed a regular bulletin to members with reviews of selections. In its first Bulletin, Guild Book Service announce that it had "been organized primarily as a service to meet the needs of the sbuscribers to the various publications of Guild Press, Ltd. We will provide a critical evalution of much of the material now flooding certain areas of specialized interest and will make these materials available as efficiently and economically as possible." The service offered not only magazines and books of interest to gay males but also provided books such as works of William Burroughs whose national distribution was often constrained by local and federal regulations.

In 1970, before the Gay Blade was even a year old and as former Washingtonian Jack Nichols was creating Gay in New York City, Guild Press began publishing its own gay newspaper, The Gay Forum with national distribution. The venture into the newspaper business fell afoul of renewed prosecution of Guild Press and Womack and a burgeoning selection of gay media.