Both editions of this Joan Ellis novel are sought after by colletors because of the Paul Rader covers. I prefer thsi first one, Midwood #182 (1962), that wild sexy kiss, than the two students on the second edition.
Entering a Joan Ellis universe is quite different than the world of Orrie Hitt, Don Elliott/Loren Beauchamp, March Hastings, or Block’s Andrew Shaw/Sheldon Lord…Ellis’ world is playful, never too dark, never too serious. It takes me a chapter or two to get into her books and enjoy her writing — the dialogue rings true, but her pretentious adjectives and attributions drive me nuts sometimes, like: “‘That’s a compromising remark,’ she flipped unconvincingly.” Why not just “she said”?
Campus Jungle is more absurd and un-realistic (well, is any sleaze erotic movel?!) than, say, her other college novel, Faculty Wife, reviewed here, which treated infidelity and academic politics seriously. Ravenwood College, a small Eastern institution somewhat like William and Mary or Bennington, has been voted by a NY newspaper as the country’s Most Typical College. But there are also rumors of wild sexual abandon, not only among students but students and faculty.
Seeking her Big Break, scandal, and to make a name for herself, Annie Winters, a cub reporter, has talked the New York Comet, a daily paper like the Observer or Post, to send her undercover to the college and find out if the rumors are true. She’s 24 but can pass off as a 19-year-old undergrad.
Less than an hour after arriving, accepting a ride from the train station to campus by a 30-year-old man, Mike Raden (who owns a bookstore near campus and is a writer working on a novel), she instantly has sex with him — she doesn’t know the guy, doesn’t know what’s gotten into her, but she accepts his advances and fucks him…feeling slutty and bad, she then ignores him throughout the book, not wanting another date, but secertly has fallen in love with him. She can’t get him off her mind although she rejects and evades him.
She also reveals her secret assignment to him, since he’s neither faulty nor student, and he tells her his secret: he bought the bookstore an year ago because he wants to exact revenge on one of the profdessors, also the Dean’s son, who got his sister pregnant. She died on the abortion table. He finds it hard wanting to destroy the Prof because he has a small child and wife — he doesn’t want to ruin their lives. But he’s looking for a way to expose the dirty dealings of the teahcers and the Dean here.
He thinks Anne’s assignment could be dangerous — these are faculty with power and much to lose. He takes her into the woods and shows her a secret lust cabin where the old Dean, and some faculty, lure young women to and have sex. He knows about the cabin from his sister’s diary.
Anne roommates with Rea in the girl’s dorm, an 18-year-old hellcat hellion nympho who wants to have sex with every male student and teacher on campus. From Rea, Anne gets an idea how much sex is going on, and she is also hit on by many males professors. Seems to the male profs, Ravenwood College is nothing more than a haven for an endless supply of new pussy each year, all 17-22 year olds.
Rea has sex with a married prof she calls “The Beard” because of his thick bushy, pretentious and arty facial hair.
Anne hides in the love cabin, wiating with her camera, and soon the Dean and the Beard bring two teenage girls inside, and pay them $50 for a strip show and sex. There’s booze and music. Anne jumps out, takes a photo like a tabloid papatrazzi, and runs away.
News travels around the day before the story hits the Comet. The Dean is terrified, thretaening to sue the paper. Anne doesn’t have her real name on the byline, just “Sorority Sister.” The Beard finds out she’s the reporter and kidnaps her at gun point, but Mike the Bookstore owner save sthe day, when he jumps in on the Dean, his son, and the Beard forcing Anne and her roommate to get naked.
There’s a happy ending, of course — Mike proposes marriage and Anne says yes. He will be her husband instead of some guy she had sex with an hour after meeting him.
One thing I like about Joan Ellis’ Midwoods are that they’re short and quick reads, you can get through one in an hour or two. She has also done a great deal of Midwood doubles noevellas, as Ellis, Linda Michaels, and a few others names. College campuses and high school girls seem to be her favorite subjects.
I am curious about her Beacon books as Jill Monte, like Thrill Clinic.
In light of the fact that this week and next, many colleges are opening up for the Fall term, and I will be at my office at UCSD a lot, I will be reading a lot of college-set sleaze books for the next month, along with lesbian titles, Don Elliots and Orrie Hitts.