Party Girl by Don Elliott (Robert Silverberg) Nightstand #1509)
One of the early books Silverberg wrote, as it is the ninth one of the line: 1509 — he wrote the first one, Love Addict: 1501.
A novel about heroin and sex and what a woman will do for her dope.
There are no drugs in Party Girl, except booze, but it’s about what women will do for money, small money, large money — women come to New York in the late 50s looking to dance or sing or act on Broadway, and get suckered by shady sleazy agents and promoters. Money becomes a drug later on…
In Party Girl, all sex leads to tragedy. There is no love — there is only desperation, fear, loneliness, loss of hope, loss of humanity.
Laura Haynes is a gorgeous Kansas farm girl who comes to the Big Apple looking for her chance on Broadway. She’s 22, full-figured, a virgin and naive. That all goes away when the first agent she has a meeting with has her get into a skimpy outfit and then rapes her.
Shocked, Laura wanders around NY, in pain from the rape, and collaspses. A girl helps her. The girl, Marilyn, is a streetwalker. Laura roomates with Marilyn. After a week of looking for work, Laura decideds to become a streetwalker.
But she’s too good-looking for $10 tricks. She soon gets the attention of a powerful, high class pimp who runs an upscale call girl service. He puts her up in a Westside apartament, buys her clothes and jewrely, gives her a $500 advance. He promises her $500 a week (about $5K in 1959 money) plus whatever tips she makes; and she has to work every night, with four days a month off; each afteroon she gets a call where to meet a cleint — bankers, lawyers, businessmen in town.
Within months, she is wealthy, putting money away…with tips, she is making $30K a year, and figures she can retire by 27.
Of course, she meets a fella whom she falls in love with — not a client, just a guy…typical call girl story falling for a common joe who falls for her too…
…and he finds out the truth about her and kills himself over the pain of it all…
…and Laura has a gun…
It’s a damn fine story — professionally paced, with a few illogical parts that the writer didn’t think out right, but that’s okay. The sex is cold and sad, even the drunken lesbian sex between Laura and Marilyn. I would nto say this novel is not “erotica” but a morality play on the sins of the flesh, a la 1950s morals.
The dialogue reads like a 1950s black and white movie too, with the sweeping soundtrack, but an ending akin to Sunset Boulevard.