Archive for lesbian sleaze

Strange Are the Ways of Love – Lesley Evans aka Lawrence Block (Crest Book #s336, 1959)

Posted in Lawrence Block, lesbian pulp fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on June 19, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Lawrence Block talks about this book in one of his writing tomes, how at age 19 he studied the numerous paperback lesbian novels on the market and wrote this one for experience and a paycheck. (The same year he published his first Midwood, Carla, coming up next.)

Strange Are the Ways of Love opens, and is almost similar to, 69 Barrow Street.  Jan, a graduate of Indiana University, comes to Greenwich Village for a summer stay at he aunt’s apartment on 54 Barrow Street.  She has secret lesbian yearnings, and has had some experiences, but feels tormented about it in mid–West America…she figures if she goes to the Village where gays are accepted, she might meet the woman of her dreams.

Instead she meets Mike, a singer/songwriter who sweeps her off her feet, confusing her with bi-sexual feelings, and through Mike she meets Laura, a gay woman who sweeps her off her feet, and thus we have the drama we see on the cover art.

This one is better than many of the very early Andrew Shaws that Block did for Nightstand, maybe because there was a solid market he wanted to crack rather than producing manuscripts fast.  It’s not an amazing story, and has a patent happy ending with Jan eschewing her gay feelings and running into Mike’s arms forever, as the market needs necessitated.

He only used the Lesley Evans pen name once — “Lesley” being a pun on lesbian.  His main female pen name would later be Jill Emerson.

The Many Faces of John Dexter #5: No Longer a Virgin penned by Lawrence Block/Donald Westlake (Nightstand #1513, 1960)

Posted in Lawrence Block, lesbian pulp fiction, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Lynn Munroe  suspected that either Block or Westlake or both penned the very first John Dexter novel, the 12th book William Hamling published, edited by Harlan Ellison, No Longer a Virgin:

Lawrence Block says he never wrote as John Dexter, and while I wanted to note that first, we should remember that he is the author of a book called Telling Lies for Fun and Profit. He also told me he never wrote as Sheldon Lord, etc. So this one is just conjecture on my behalf. One thing I noticed in my research of the Nightstand writers was that every single one of them told me that sometimes their books would come out under a house name like John Dexter. The only authors who claim not to be Dexter are Block, Westlake, and Dresner. The Alan Marshall books are full of references to Dexter. One of them mentions a playwright named Dexter St. John. Nightstand editor Earl Kemp told me that whenever they had two manuscripts by the same writer, they would stick a house name like Dexter or J.X. Williams [after that pseudonym was abandoned by John Jakes] on the second one. It is obvious when reading Dexters that they are the work of a wide variety of writers.

Everybody, at one time or another, was John Dexter, so we can deduce that Block was probably Dexter too. Then there’s High School Sex Club (NB1517) [...] which lists [Andrew] Shaw as author on the cover but Dexter on the title page. Is this a typo, or were Shaw and Dexter linked somehow?

Block later admitted to one Dexter: Shame Dame, that I discussed here.

After reading No Longer a Virgin, I can confidently say this is another early Lawrence Block with the aid of Donald Westlake — published the same year as A Girl Called Honey, the narrative voice is the same and the female protagonists are somewhat alike…the breaks in style and dialogue are obvious, just as they were in Honey...

In Crossroads of Lust, the character Beth remembers reading No Longer a Virgin and how by chapter three, the girl in the story loses her virginity in a motel room with an older man; variations on the name “John Dexter” pop up now and then in Andrew Shaw and Alan Marshall books.

The heroine of the tale, Ann,  discovered the wonders of physical contact with boys youug…

She liked the feeling of men’s hands on [her breasts]. She liked it from the beginning, when she was twelve years old and they were already strongly building, and the boys used to rub them in the darkness of the neighborhood movie theater during the Saturday matinee.  Even then, she liked the touch of their hands on her breasts, and she liked to be kissed.  But she never let any of them touch her below the waist. (pp. 5-6)

Ann was determined to remain a virgin until her marriage. Even with her high school beau, Dan, “sex” was mutual masturbation.

That changes when she heads to New York City after graduating high school, with some stenography classes under her belt, and a typing certificate of 50-words-a-minute.  On the bus she meets 35-year-old Roger, an ad guy coming back from St. Louis. She lies and says she’s 20, and they share a motel room at a stopover.  She doesn’t want to seem inexperienced so she goes to bed with him and, as the title states, she’s no longer a virgin.

The innocent girl seduced my the men of New York is a common story in sleazy books of the 1950s-60s — sometimes they become prostitutes, sometimes they become tramps, sometimes they meet bad ends, and sometimes they seek redemption after months or years of sin.

She soon finds that men try to make her every way she turns — there’s the Broadway producer, Barry, and he has her strip to her underpants during a job interview; and a fat slob of a building manager who talks her into a quick bout of sex in exchange for a one year lease on a nice Brooklyn apartment.

Women, too.  She first stays with a girl from back home, Janet; one day she comes home drunk and lets her know she’s a lesbian and has designs.  What happens is basically a lesbian rape scene, but Roger arrives in time to save her, punching the lesbian out after a boxing match between the two.

She likes Roger a lot — why not, he took her cherry and was her knight in armor, saving her from forced twilight perversions.  But Roger is a “forever bachelor” at 35; he doesn’t want to get married or share an apartment with her.  Still, she refers to him as her “boyfriend” to others.

Then she learns he has  wife and kids, the hard way…

She learns that men are liars.  But is she. When Dan shows up out of the blue, missing her badly, she does everthing she can to keep Dan from finding out about Roger, from knowing the truth — she even has sex with Dan and makes him believe he just took her virginity, but it all backfires her and she loses both men in her life.

But she knows the city is full of men to sleep with; there may not be love or commitment or even truth,

but I won’t be alone, she thought. Never that.  At least I won’t be alone. (p. 191)

Not a remarkable story, and very little “story” at that, but it does end on a bleak note, rather than the typical romantic ending where the wanton girl finds true love and is happy. This one is more, well, realistic.

One thing is certain: Block, with Westlake, were the first faces of the prolific sleazemeister  John Dexter.

Lesbian Sins: Twisted Loves by Mark Ryan (Robert Silverberg, Bedside Books, 1959)

Posted in Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Ryan - Twisted LovesRobert Silverberg wrote a handful of Bedtime/Bedstand Books as “Mark Ryan” – Twisted Loves, Company Girl, Suburban Affair, Suburban Sin Club.  All seemed to be published in 1959, so he wrote them in 1958-9, before moving to Midwood and Nightsand in 1959-60 (for better money no doubt, as Bedstand paid $400-500 per mss., but still decent money for the time, the equivalent to $5K).

Twisted Loves is one of those late-50s taboo lesbian novels.  Connie Chapin is a secretary in New York, a hopeful actress whose never even gotten an audition; the novel opens with her in a bar getting drunk, drowing her pain in booze, fighting off men who try to “make” her.  She hates men: her four relationships and encounters have been bad and heart-breaking.

After fighting off a fat drunk, she stumbles out of the bar.  She falls on the ground and is recued by an older woman who sees her — “Lee.”  Lee is 40, a successful lawyer with an Upper West Side home, mannish and flat-chested (all of Silvberg’s lesbians seem to be flat-chested and mannish).  She brings Connie back, bathes her, seduces her…and the sex, for Connie, is much better than with any man.

Sober the next day, Connie is shamed by her “Lesbian” act of depravity, though moved by Lee’s generosity and skill in bed.  Lee chases her but Connie backs off, and then when she decides all men are pugs, she goes back to Lee and they start a love affair.  It is much like Laura Duchamp’s Duet: the older, successful rich lesbian secuding the pretty young trollop.

Lee introduces Connie to Manhattan’s underground elite gay crowd: women who dress like men and take men’s names (Steve, Mike), artty-farty lesbians, gay men, etc.  In the 1950s, this was a taboo society, but a strong undercurrent in culture.

When Lee is away in Beverly Hills for a big case for a month, Connie is lonely and needs a woman, and one night makes a move on her roommate, a nympho but straight.  The roommates freaks out, finds lesbians disgusting, and moves out.

All during her lesbian romp, Connie is being pursued by a man, Ted.  She keeps putting him off but eventually gets together with him, falls in love, plans to marry…

This is typical of lesbian novels wrtten by men: the heroines eventually find the error of their ways and find a nice man to have a nice heterosexual relattionship with.  I just read in Susan Stryker’sQueer PulpQueer Pulp (Chronicle Books, 2001) that publishers required unhappy endings in lesbiana and gay male stories, or that the protagonist end up in the arms of the opposite sex — this way the books acted as “morality” and “cautionary tales”, seeminly anti-gay, otherwise they could be prosecuted for obscene materal, especially if the books were sent through the mail.  As the laws changed in the 1960s, and with women wrting lesbian pulps, endings were different, such as the books of Ann Bannon or March Hastings.

Not Silberberg’s best, but a good read, humorous at times — such as the girl fight scene: Connie and a former lover of Lee’s lock in a deadly battle, ripping all their clothes off, and in the middle of the cat fight they start to fuck.  Classic male fantasy!

**********

An annoying aside: I just paid $25 for Strange Delights by Lauren Beauchamp and it’s the same damn book as Twisted Loves!  Except, Connie is re-named Lonnie (maybe because of the novel Connie) and Lee is Vee.  Seems Silverberg reprinted a number of his Bedstand Ryan and Challon books as “original” Beauchamps, or even Elliotts.  Cahllon’s Campus Sin Club becomes Beauchamp’s Campus Sex Club; Challon’s French Sin Port becomes Elliott’s Rogue of the Riviera; Ryan’s Thirsty for Love becomes Beauchamp’s Wayward Widow…I am pretty sure that Beauchamp’s The Wife Traders is  reprint of Challon’s Suburban Sin Club, and Elliott’s Hot Rod Sinners is reprinted as Beauchamp’s Lez Floozies.  And seems Beuchamp’s Nurse Carolyn became Elliott’s Registered Nympho, and Beauchamp’s Sin on Wheels to Elliott’s Orgy on Wheels.

I still need to get Ryan’s Illict Affair and Streets of Sin, and Challon’s Suburban Affair and Campus Hellion, and see what Beauchamps or Elliotts they become.

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