The Many Faces of John Dexter #1: Sin Festival penned by Robert Silverberg

Dexter - Sin FestivalJust about every Cornith/Greenleaf/Nightstand/Hamling writer was John Dexter and J.X. Williams at one time or another, the two main house names.  John Jakes was the first Williams, it’s unknown who was the first Dexter but there is some rumor it was Lawrence Block, who didn’t want to hone up to it.

Robert Silverberg did a few as Dexter, such as this one, Sin Festival (NB # 1572) and The Bra Peddlers, reviewed here. As Dexter, he also wrote Stripper! and Sex Thieves.

Dexter - Sex ThievesDexter - Stripper!

Like Snavely’s The Big Flick (reviewed below)  this is a film industry novel, but about the process of getting a movie out there after it’s done.  The movie here is Helen of Troy, and the production company is at Cannes to sell it to European distributors.  At Cannes are Cal Warner, the publicist for Jupiter Films, Elayne, an actress in the film, and Mr. Ronwieser, the studio mogul.

Warner’s job is to drum up buzz — a fake romance between Elayne and a French actor, Elayne’s swimming nude, etc.  She’s a nympho and needs sex often and sometime she keeps her happy, sometimes he doesn’t.

Warner meets a French actress, Jeanette, desperate to go to Hollywood.  To get a contract, she has to have an “interview” with Mr. Ronweiser — that is, have sex with him.  He’s a short, elderly, disgusting man who liked “kinky” sex (it’s never said what) and Jeanette feels dirty for doing this for her dream, as many actresses wind up feeling.

Elayne is jealous of Jeanette because something is developing between Warner and the French actress.  In one day, though, she has sex with three men — Ronwiser, an old flame she meets at the festival, and Warner.

Part of Warner’s job is to also find women for her boss to fuck.  He’s a $35K  a year yes man (about $350K back then) and he’s starting to hate it.

The novel is set in the first week of the Cannes Film Festival, with colorful French Riviera settings. Silverberg catches the atmosphere and the reality of film distribution, publicity, and what it takes well — there’s more to just writing a screenplay and making a movie; once it’s done, you need to get people to see it, buy it, review it, want it.

But something falls short here…I have not yet read a Silverberg softcore I did ‘t finish or like, but this one falls into the average category, with a somewhat sappy romantic ending after an explosion of seedy, drunken violence.

On a personal note, I had a short documentary (“Life in Zona Norte”) screen at Cannes, at the Palace K Theatre on May 16, 2009, and later exhibited in the Short Film Corner.  Cannes is the tops, with Sundance and Tribeca, but never what you expect.

I’ve been to many other film festivals and they are a lot like how Sin Festival depicts — no art, it’s all about commerce and publicity,  with a lot of parties, drinking, sex, and sex for favors going on at night.

Want to get laid by hopeful actors at a film festival? If you’re a director or producer, it helps…as a writer, who knows, maybe if your film is in pre-production and you can get them a part…

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