While writing as Don Elliott and John Dexter for Nightstand, Robert Silverberg was also writing as Loren Beauchamp, David Challon, and Mark Ryan for Midwood. Connie (Midwood No. 18) was a huge bestseller for Midwood, going through four “big printings” and two different covers, both by Paul Rader — above and here:
I have the third printing with this second cover.
Connie is told in the thid-person and through the eyes of an innocent teenage girl in Brooklyn. True to Silverberg’s format for many of his softcore titles, he presents a character the reader cares about who has tragedy befall on them, something so terrible it ruins their lives and changes their worldview.
Connie is 17 and a senior in high shcool. Her steady beau is a freshman at Syracuse. Since 15, she has had her entire future mapped out with this boy: the “pinning” for a year, a year of engagement, marriage at age 20; house, career, three kids, vacations in Europe, grandkids, gwoing old and happy without a worry in the world.
She writes her future husband every day. One night, she walks out to the mailbox to send a letter and is kidnapped by a gang out 11 jevenile thugs (big deviant theme of the 1950s, along with beatniks, alcoholics, and wayward wantons); they take her to an abandoned shack and gang rape her for hours. She is a virgin; she has been saving herself for marriage. While the rape is brutal, and she comes in and out of conscioiusness, she is shocked when she feels pleasures and has the occasional orgasm. She does not understand this and the gang takes this as a sign that she’s into it.
The rape devastates her parents and numbs her boyfriend. She is sent to Arizona to stay with her grandparents for the summer and let the scandal die down (her rape was in all the papers). While her boyfriend said her “soiling” would not affect their plans, he eventually mails her a break-up letter.
Connie is angry with the world, with men — the gang kids who defiled her, the boyfriend who abandoned her. She takes a walk, goes into a bar, lets an older man buy her some drinks, and goes to his motel room and has sex with him. She enjoys it. When the guy is alseep, she opens his wallet and takes $10 and decides she will become a hooker. She will get back at the world and at men by becoming the opposite of what society expected of her, and never giving her pussy away for free. She will make men pay; she will make the world turn in shame for her depravity; she will defy and rebel, all in the same of money and fast sex.
She moves to San Francisco without telling her parents where she’s off to and sets herself up as a freelance call girl, first with a man who helps her with her luggage. She is hot, claims to be 22, and men want to date her; but after dinners and before sex, she informs the men a fuck will cost $25.
Within months she has a long list of clients and referrals and is being paid $100 a night by wealthy older men. She’s ineperienced at sex at first but soon learns things as she new client has his various kinks and wants, from slapping to anal.
Connie is a romance novel, really; it has that feel of the lost little girl who just wants to be loved. She does fall in love with a rich cilent who sets her up in Los Angeles: a room in a Beverly Hills hotel ($40 a night!) , a salary, a promise to leave his wife and marry her. The client turns out to be a sadist who just wanted a mistress. Connie’s heart is broken and she attempts to commit suicide at the Beverly Hotel.
Her doctor, who gives her a blood tranfusion, falls in love with her and she falls for him and…
The keen reader will know that this book is not written by a woman. There are too many men’s fantasies going on: her orgasms during rape (though many rape victims report this does happen, adding to the shame of the experience), her quick willingness to become a whore, the way she speaks. But this book was not meant to be marketed to women like regular romances.
It’s an engaging story. I admit to a guilty pleasure: I could not put it down, the way you can get sucked up in watching a soap opera and not realize it. There are a lot of typos and printer errors, but these are to be expected from quickie books.
Like the Don Elliotts, the Loren Beauchamps are of higher writing quality than most sleaze books of the 50s-60s.
I have all the Beauchamps and will talk more as I read them this summer, slowly writing my Silverberg monograph.