Archive for March, 2010

An Orrie Hitt Homage — The Trouble with Tramps

Posted in noir fiction, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on March 31, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

The Orrie Hitt homage, a pastiche called The Trouble with Tramps, has been released by Black Mask Books and can be ordered from them or from Amazon.

Copy: Orrie Hitt was known as the Shakespeare of Sleaze, the Noir Poet of Vintage Softcore, during his salad days from 1957-1964. Then he slowly faded away, like many old paperback hacks did, but he was hardly forgotten. He influenced and warped the minds of many, back then and today, creating a cult following among vintage book collectors and fans. In this pastiche of Orrie Hitt, Michael Hemmingson pays homage to the vintage paperback heyday with a compulsively fascinating novel that walks in the used, old boots of the Shakespeare of Sleaze. . . Jack Card is a hard-working nowhere man who dreams of a better life. Whether he’s laying pipe, tending bar, or laying willing wanton women, he spends his free time writing short stories for the pulp magazines, proving he’s more than some hard-drinking, blue collar lug. Set in 1957 in a small American town, Jack juggles the favors of three women: Kay, his lush wife who cannot keep faithful; Lucy, his teenage hillbilly girlfriend who is now carrying his child in her belly; and Eve, the rich woman who promises him another life if he helps her murder the husband she hates. The Trouble with Tramps explores many of Orrie Hitt’s pet themes and obsessions: younger women marrying rich older men, peeping toms, backwoods swamp girls, alcoholism, jealousy and bad wives. We dare you to open at any page and see if you can’t put this exciting new novel down!

Of Shame and Joy – Shedon Lord aka Lawrence Block (Midwood #29, 1960)

Posted in Lawrence Block, lesbian pulp fiction, Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Sheldon Lord, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on March 29, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Set in Provincetown, Rhode Island, instead of the usual Greenwich Village Block/Lord gay novel, Of Shame and Joy is about three people looking for an answer to their lustful longings and need to for love and connection.

First there is Sheila, a tall blonde nymphomaniac who loves sex but cannot reach orgasm, so has more sex to try to. She is tormented by her own desires.

There is Maddy, a young dark haired lesbian disowned by her family who falls in love with Sheila on first sight, but when she approaches Sheila, Sheila is appalled by the advances of “a dirty queer.”

There is Hank, who rescues Sheila after a crazy drunken night of a gang bang, having sex with over a dozen men. He’s a 21 year old virgin and loses his cherry to Sheila and falls in love with her.

Seems everyone falls in love with Sheila, except Sheila can love no one

It is a little soap opera-esque, the broken hearts of lovelorn men and women in P-town, and while not as good as some of Block’s other Sheldon Lords, a fairly good read.  I’d give it a B-minus.

One ting I did like was it did not have that slease-era patent “lesbians are evil” ending; instead, it has a romantic, happy lesbian ending with plenty of alluded to oral sex.

The Lesbian – Dr. Benjamin Morse aka Lawrence Block (Monarch Books, 1962)

Posted in Lawrence Block, lesbian pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , on March 29, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

The sleaze book era of the 1960s gave rise to the fictional medical case study book, after the bestselling status of Masters and Johnson and The Kisney Report.   Publishers wanted to cash in on this genre so hired writers out of Scott Meredith to pen bogus academic studies — Lawrence Block was Benjamin Morse, Robert Silverberg was L.T. Woodward. I know Art Plotnik did one of fetsihes.

I have wondered how many people picked these books up back then and thought they were real, and if students or researchers cited them in papers.  And what’s the danger of such for academic accuracy and scholarly evidence in research, something that has been an issue lately with global warming and other research. Indeed, the notion of “the politics of evidence” in academics has been a point of heated debate the past two years.

Today, of course, these books would never pass muster; what they really are: collections of short stories linked by a fake sexologist, much like the recent studies by Dr. Garth Mundinger-Klow.  Entertainment, no less!

This book was published when “homosexuality is illegal. Yet common sense tells us that it should not be” (p. 136).  Men and women could be, and were, arrested if caught in the act, even in the privacy of their homes, and often in hotels when management would turn them in.  “Queer friendly” motels were common.

Block/Morse goes through the gambit of “types”  of lesbians that he interviews, from the college girl, the office girl, the career gal a literary agent in this case), the prostitute, the matron, the man hater, the bohemian, the frigid wife, the “unsuccessful heterosexual” and the dull dyke.  Some he deems are not true lesbians but just girls experiemnting, or who are bi-sexual; others he deems are born lesbians.

But how accurate is this book, knowing it is fiction and written by a man?  Block knew the gay community well, writing about lesbians as Leslie Evans, Jill Emerson, and Sheldon Lord. A more authentic typology would be Ann Aldridge’s We Walk Alone.

In the Andrew Shaw book, Butch, a woman reads Morese’s The Lesbian and it changes her  life — she becomes a gay hooker.

In conclusion, Morese write:

There is no way to sum up a book such as this one. It is not a novel or a biography.  It is not even a single complete argument… (p. 140)

What is it then?

Pulp sleaze written for a quick buck.

Passion Pirate – George Baker (Bedside Book #1228, 1962)

Posted in Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

It seems Bedtime/Bedside Books had three owners in its short life from 1959-1963.  It was a pioneer in sleaze, and Robert Silverberg’s association with them as David Challon and Mark Ryan was impetus for William Hamling to start Nightstand Books, starting with Silverberg’s Don Elliott novel, Love Addict.

Owned by Valient Publications, when Hamling bought the company out in 1961, Bedstand was changed to Bedside and was owned by Pert Publications, one of Hamling’s many shell companies. Looking at Victor Berch’s Bedstand/Bedside Checklist in Books Are Everything#20, the Haling run started at #1201 with Silverberg’s Don Elliott Woman Chaser, and went to #1224, Lawrence Block’s Andrew Shaw Gutter Girl . All the bylines were Cornith regulars: Dean Hudson, Alan Marshall, Clyde Allison, Al James, etc.

From  #1225 to #1251, the books were issued by EKS Publishers (seems to be the same as LS Publishers, with Bellringer and Gaslight Books) and the bylines were different.  My theory has been that Hamling still owned the imprint but changed the shell company and pen names to keep the feds off his back for them.  This seemed apparent to me with #1225, Sin Professor by Frank Peters, that read a lot ike Hal Dresner’s writing and had a character named Poltnik in it, for Dresner’s buddy Art Plotnik.

The bylines for Bedside’s end run seemed to all be generic names like Peters, and David Andrews, David Spencer, Jack Lechien.  The only names that I have seen with other publishers is Monte Steele and William F. Frank.

I have purchased a number of these, looking for Cornith styles. When reading Passion Pirate, I at first thought this was an Lawrence Block — it opens, in tight Block-like prose, with two broke drifters seeking out women to use and live with, scouring Greenwich Village.  They are Sebastian Wolff and Earl Dreggs.  They seemed a lot like two similar Lotahrios in Block’s Sheldon Lord Pads Are for Passion.

Reading further, however, I realized this was not Block, and when I got to a scene where a character puts on a record by an Albany-based singer named Plotnik, I realized George Baker was the same as Frank Peters, and this wasn’t Hal Dresner but Art Plotnik.  Plotnik was indicating that he was the author by adding himself in, and making fun of himself, as a character mentions having seen Plotnik in person and was “kind of weird.”

Plotnik was handled by the Scott Meredith Agency, so Bedside was getting its books from the same wellspring as Midwood and Nightstand and who-knows-who-else.

Passion Pirate was surprisingly good, a terse tale with real-feeling characters. Sebastian is the ladies man, a sly devil who seems to be able to hypnotize any woman who crosses his path, causing them to become submissive and hand over their pads, money, and hearts.  His sidekick, Earl, is a lug who seems to only get the leftovers and broken hearts — you know, the fellow who takes advantage of women hurting and on the rebound.

At the top, Sebastian picks up Christine, a 22-year-old Village nowhere girl whose rich Boston daddy is supporting for her a year as she writes poetry and tries to make a name for herself.  Sebastian wiggles his way into her pad and her heart, promising her he knows a literary agent who can get her poems published.

The agent is Cynthia, a married older woman who had a one night stand with Sebastian two years ago and still yearns for him.  She agrees to handle the poems if he agrees to fuck her twice  a week.  She claims her husband or no man has been able to please her since her once time with him.

Many women  seem to be the same. Sebastian is not only a lover, but a fighter, defending the honor of women with his fists, “speaking like an actor,” moving like a panther through the Village streets and bars.  Despite living with Christine, Sebastian can pick up women within an hour, make them fall in love, and break their hearts.  One is Ginny, that Earl runs into — Ginny was Earl’s ex-girlfriend that Sebastian has seduced.  Ginny lets Earl move in with her but she really wants him to get Sebastian back.

A lot of libertine sex goes on, including one gang bang scene with Christine as she fucks five guys in a row to get back at Sebastian’s infidelity.  The scene is more sad than erotic.

The novel ends in that weird way some of early Block books do, but this isn’t Block. I am convinced it is Art Plotnik now.

Girls’ Dormitory – Orrie Hitt (Beacon, 1958)

Posted in Beacon Books, lesbian pulp fiction, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on March 26, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Reviewed here.

Lust Campus — Andrew Shaw aka Lawrence Block (Midnight Reader #408, 1961)

Posted in Lawrence Block, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , on March 26, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

The third title, along with Crossroads of Lust and Passion Bride, that was deemed obscene in the court case People v. Sikora, 32 Ill. 2d 260, 267-268, 204 N. E. 2d 768, 772-773 (1965), and later footnoted in a 1977 Supreme Court Case, Ward v. Illinois, appealing a conviction for selling obscene materials. Justice Brennan noted in footnote 3 of his dissent:

“`Lust Campus’ by Andrew Shaw is a story of sexual adventures on a [431 U.S. 767, 772] college campus `where even members of the faculty taught sin and evil.’ The book describes homosexuals `necking’ on a public beach; mutual masturbation; self fondling; a circle of persons engaged in oral-genital contact; rape; intercourse; lesbian intercourse; cunnilingus and flagellation; flagellation with barbed wire; an abortion with red-hot barbed wire; masturbation with a mirror reflection, and a transvestite episode.

Yeah, it has all that, but it’s a disjointed book.  Block was at his least when he did multi-character college campus sleazsy books; he was better at the first-person and crime stuff, which he later went on to excel at with Gold Medal and other places.

I also detect a hint of Donald Westlake’s style popping in and out, but it’s mostly Block done in eight very long chapters.

It opens interestingly — Mike Fisher is on a beach and he thinks, while sunning himself, he is being fondled by a gay guy, and he attacks the person, punching them, but it turns out to be a girl, Linda.  They wind up dating but she won’t give her virginity to him, she just lets him findle her and get her top off.  He tells her he loves her, hoping she will give her cherry away, but she doesn’t.

From there both Mike and Linda go off on various sexual adventures in and around New York City, without cohesion.  In a weird way, this reminded me of Don DeLillo’s style, such as in Players or even the recent Falling Man: an event happens to a man and woman, and then they both go off on their own adventures and travels as a result of the event.

For its place in U.S. court history, the book is worth a read but I can only give it a C+.

Vintage Paperback Show Purchases

Posted in Andrew Shaw, Lawrence Block, Midwood Books, Nightstand Books, noir fiction, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on March 23, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks