Archive for April, 2010

Let’s Play House – Joan Ellis (Midwood, 1967)

Posted in Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on April 30, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Vicky Taylor has just turned 18, is a senior in high school, and wants the hell out of her impoverished life, living with her “loose” mother and five siblings, another on the way, all fathered by different “uncles” who have come and gone over the years.  One “uncle” threw her on the bed at 13 and took her virginity by force, so now she does not trust men. In fact, she knows she can use her body and allure to get men to do her bidding.

So she has her gunsites aimed at Mr. Woodward, the middle-aged widower lawyer she babysits for.  She has noticed how he looks at her. One night she lets him knows she is available, for a price: for $200 she will sleep with him.  He takes her up on it, and also gives her his dead wife’s mink coat.

She uses the $200 to buy a bus ticket to New York City, to start a new life.  This is where the “let’s play house” Lolita aspect of the short novel ends — Vicky arrives in New York fresh and naive and gets involved with a group of 20-somethings into nude modeling and general hustling to survive.

The book is short — 118 pages, 30,000 words or so.  I have noticed Midwood put out a lot of very short books in 1966-7, manuscripts that were most likely originally purchased for double or triple books.

Let’s Play House is okay, the usual young sexual girl story that Ellis wrote quite a bit of.

Diane – Max Collier (Midwood #F319, 1963)

Posted in Midwood Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on April 28, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

A horrible photo cover from Midwood, but a great gem of a little novel tucked away in the bad packaging, akin to Max Collier’s The Mark of a Man.

The sexuality of young girls with older men is a strong staple in erotic fiction, especially after the court case with Lolita, which was quite tame and more suggestion than actuality.  In the 50s-60s sleaze books, the youngest female characters got were 17, though sometimes — such as Don Elliott’s/Silverberg’s Sexteen — they were 16.  In the 1970s, however, with publishers like London Fog and Surree House got into downright pedophilia.

The young girl in Diane, named Diane, is a precocious fifteen-year-old sex kitten that the protagonist, Adam Behr, meets in a bar while his wife is away on vacation.  Since the girl is in a bar and the bartender knows her, he assumes she’s at least 21, though a but young-looking. After some beers and talk, they leave and have sex twice, and later he goes to see her at her house and her mother catches them, informing him that he’s a dirty old man with jailbait.

Adam is stymied.

Then the mother tries to blackmail him, he says forget it, and she calls the cops.  He’s arrested, arraigned, gets bail, gets a lawyer, and waits for his wife to come home.

Meanwhile, despite the statutory rape charge, Adam’s street cred is boosted. He’s a quiet office manager at a paper distributor (The Office?) in Los Angeles and his make co-workers see him in a new light, as do the women…and women find him more sexually interesting — he winds up getting laid out of it, though he may go to jail for one-to-three years for catching some underage action.

Seems Diane has quite a few former lovers and lover, older men and boys alike.  And her mother was investigated for child abandonment.  Diane’s mother is a drunken floozy who goes from one man to another, and sometimes Diane sleeps with her boyfriends. How long the girl has been doing this is unknown.

But Diane says she is in love with Adam — she says no man has ever “turned her on” the way he does.  He finds her giving and better in bed than his wife — which he tells his wife when she kicks him out.

He gets a new apartment and nextdoor is a sexy school teacher and they get to know each other…

Throughout the ordeal and shake-up of his life, Adam takes a sarcastic attitude, as if he were living in absurdism…and a way he is, and finds he needed this disruption of his life and to get out of a marriage that was dull and a job that was killing his soul.

Diane frees him, and he owes her, and even goes back to her for more sex and innocent comfort.

The writing is excellent and the ending sardonic.  Again, a literary novel packaged as sleaze.

This one gets an A-minus and a high recommendation.

21 Gay Street – Sheldon Lord aka Lawrence Block (Midwood #55, 1960)

Posted in Lawrence Block, lesbian pulp fiction, pulp fiction, Sheldon Lord, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on April 25, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

First, 21 Gay Street is a real address:

In Block’s novel, the brownstone apartment complex at the address in the center of most of the action.  Joyce Kendall, fresh from Ohio and a graduate of Clifton College (setting of many Andrew Shaw campus Corniths), ready to start her job at Armageddon Publishing, rented the place sight unseen from an ad in a paper. She wanted a furnished apartment when she arrived in Manhattan, prepared to take the publishing community over by a storm.

She meets three neighbors: Terri Leigh and Jane Fitzgerald, two lesbians who live and love together; and Pete Galton, a former PR writer now taking time to write his first novel, which isn’t coming along as he had hoped.

Joyce is disappointed in her job — Armageddon does not publish literature but pulp magazines in the true confessions, romance, and men’s adventure genres.  She thought  she would be a first reader of manuscripts — which she is — but mostly she does letter typing and filing.

Joyce is lonely and bored.  ane and Terri have third third sex eye on her — she’s cute, she is unattached, is she gay or in the closet?  Jane incites Joyce to dinner.  When Jove makes the moves on her, she freaks out and runs to another neighbor, Pete, who has been rude to her. She asks Pete to take her to bed, so she knows she is a woman desired by men.

Pete takes her to a wild party, instead. An orgy in fact.  Joyve drks several juice drinks spiked with qualludes.  She blacks out and later learns that she had sex with dozens of men, including Pete, whose bed she wakes up in.

A romance happens, despite the sordid encounter at the orgy.  They click.  Pete knows his novel is trash and worries about money.  Joyce tells him he could write cofessioons romances and make $150 a story.  She knows what her employer wants, so he writes to order and starts a career as a pulp writer, with pregnant Joyce at his side.

A sappy tale but not bad.  The lesbian aspects are not as prominent as the wonderful Paul Rader cover suggests.  The sex is almost a tad more explicit than your usual 1960s Midwood, too.

A B-minus.

Leased – Jack Woodford & Orrie Hitt (Signature Press, 1954)

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on April 21, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Leased is one of the many “co-authored” books that Jack Woodford did with up-and-coming adult fiction writers in the 1950s.  We see the same today — the co-written works with Tom Clancey, Larry Niven, Andre Norton, etc. — a commercially viable writer who is getting old and cannot produce like they once could will generate outlines, or have existing book ideas done by younger, hungrier writers.

I am guessing that Signature Books was most likely a precursor of The Woodford Press, where Woodford did the same.  The back cover of Leased lists nothing but Woodford and co-authors on many books:

We noted before that the books from Key that Hitt seemed to co-wrote as Charles Verne and Roger Normandie had Woodford’s silent stamp all over them.

In 1954, Hitt only had two books published the year before, I’ll Call Every Monday and Love in the Arctic, in hardback from Red Lantern Books.  In ’54, Monday was reprinted by Avon, and Beacon issued two paperback originals: She Got What She Wanted and Shabby Street.

What’s curious is that the reprint edition of Leased, published as Trapped (Beacon, 1958), only has Hitt’s byline.  Perhaps because Hitt seems to have written most if not all the book, using an idea of Woodford’s, and the Beacon edition has extra text, which has five more opening pages than the hardcover edition.  Chapters throughout have more material, so either Hitt added it in to get the paperback to a commercial 60,000 word length, or the Signature edition had edited down Hitt’s original typescript.

Leased/Trapped is narrated by a big red-headed man named Brick Hayden, who co-runs a farm with his alcoholic partner, Roy.  The two don’t seem to get along well, or see eye-to-eye on business matters, and Brick has been sleeping with the gal Roy plans to marry, a gal Brick has known for along time, and she admits she wished he had taken her virginity when she was ten and had a crush on him, when he was 14.

The novel opens with Brick negotiating with a guy who runs a “camera club” to lease out part of the farm for three months so young women can model for amateur photographers.  Brick is hesitant, but he needs the money, and one of the lead models, a gorgeous woman named Gloria, entices his decision with her looks:

She had long, black hair that wasn’t too curly and that hung down across the deep tan of her shoulders  She had a high forehead and very dark narrow eyebrows.  Below those were a couple of smoky, laughing eyes that looked out at me across a small, roundly pointed nose. Her lips were full and sensuous, half-parted, and I could see her white teeth and just a trace of her red tongue […] I felt the hair stand up on the back to my legs and the end of my toes became numb and dead. (p. 7)

Brick soon regrets his decision when he realizes that this “camera club” is a ruse for prostitution, that the men are brought in to eye the girls and pick, and pay for, sex.  This is a common Hitt theme in later books, such as Campus Tramp and Three Strange Women, as well as the whole racket of nude photos, found in The Promoter, I ‘ll Cal Every Monday, Hotel Woman, Naked Model, Sin Doll, As Bad as They Come, Affairs of a Beauty Queen, and countless others, including Hitt’s last published novel, Nude Model (1970).

A semi-violent love affair happens between Brick and Gloria.  He demands she get out of the hooker business and away from the nude photos but she seems to like the seediness of it.  But as we know from many Hitt books, when the hero falls for a sexy woman beyond his means, he’s usually being played.

Leased isn’t up to par with Hitt’s other 1954 titles, like the excellent Shabby Street, but for its connection to the legendary Woodford, and the beginning of one of his obsessive pet themes, it’s an interesting read; on the Hitt Scale, however, it gets a 7 for dragging along.

That Other Hunger – Sloane Britain (Midwood F117, 1961)

Posted in lesbian pulp fiction, Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , on April 20, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This is the story of Lisa McBride, a somewhat naive young lady in New York, attending the New School for Art and modeling on the side to make money.  Her mother was once a model, and has sent Lisa to Fran, an agent and PR person.  But Fran is also an aging lesbian with an eye for the young ones, and just when she thinks she has Lisa for her lover, Lisa meets a hunky “he-man” model, Craig Phelps, and instantly falls in love with him.

Fran is annoyed but she doesn’t think the romance will last long.  Craig is a user, moving into her place and getting her to buy loads of marijuana, which starts off slow but becomes a daily, hourly obsession for him.  He sees Lisa as his property, and at a party, he tells his buddies “what’s mine is yours” and they can all have sex with Lisa if they want.

“Craig! Do you really mean that?  You  . . . don’t care if I have sex with other men?”

“Not all the time, baby. Just on certain occasions, when I feel in the mood. And tonight I felt like sharing you and our pad with some old buddies. I still feel like it, as a matter of fact. So let’s get going and get you high.”

Lisa fell bac into his arms, stunned and hurt […] She had no rght keeping him from entertaining his buddies — just because she was so jealous and didn’t want to share him with anyone.  So he wanted to show her off to his buddies. Nothing wrong with that. It was kind of nice, as a matter of fact […] He carried her into the living room.  Pausing on the threshold, he shouted for attention. “Now here this, all you cats. Here’s my chick, Lisa. And for tonight, what’s mine is yours.”

Three husky crew-cut young men, clad only in jockstraps, fell to their knees in front of Craig. They stretched out their brawny arms toward him. Craig spread his arms and let her drop down into their midst.  Her startled shrieks were lost in their roar of laughter and clapping from the others in the room. (pp.94-5)

There’s some lesbian sex too, like when Lisa spends the night in a Park Avenue pad and a maid who resembles her has sex with her, making Lisa like “she’s having sex with herself.”

Fran meanwhile has found a new young female paramour, Sally, to replace Lisa.  She hears of the crazy pot parties and orgies and admonishes Lisa that it’s only a matter of time before Craig starts pimping her out for money.  Lisa guffaws.

But in a matter of days, their money gone, Craig is desperate. He has been opening her mail and cashing checks not his, pawning her jewelry, telling her that what she owns he owns, vice versa — including her body.  He also seems to be hooked on heroin but denies it — similar in fact to The Needle, where the husband pimps his wife for junk and dollars, Craig talks Lisa into attending a “party” for a rich businessman they know, who will pay her $200 to “entertain” some out of town buyers. She thinks she’s just supposed to talk and act nice and then finds out she’s expected to have sex with any man at the party who wants it.  She narrowly escapes gang rape.

Lisa is a lot of Terry Southern’s Candy, so naive and always finding her way into sexual adventures she didn’t ask for; sometimes you can’t feel sorry for her for being so dumb, but she leans the hard way, with the help of Fran, who winds up getting murdered by Craig in a moment of madness.

That Other Hunger also has a lesbian-positive ending, where Lisa and Sally, grieving for Fran, wind up in each others’ arms, in bed, “wide awake and performing the ageless rituals of love” (p. 188).  Does the title refer to the twilight desire, or to heroin over pot?

The novel starts off slow, a tad too New York chic, but we slowly get sucked into Lisa’s sad glamor world of  modeling, drugs, and sex.

Score: B-.

Case of the Eager Nymphs – Arnold Marmor (Boudoir #1044, 1962)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on April 20, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

The title of this Marmor is a take on the Perry Mason books, and the hero is  a lawyer, but he’s nothing like Mason and the title has little to do with the plotline.

Previously reviewed Marmor’s Love Addiction and found out that Marmor used his real name and was a veteran of the crime and SF pulp days of the 1950s, and a good read.

Case of the Eager Nymphs is a good read and reads more like a novella for, say, Mike Shayne’s Mystery Mag than a “sleaze” book.  It’s short, about 25-30,000 words, and moves briskly.  It’s narrated by a lawyer hired by a woman who is supposedly dead from a car crash and buried…the woman wants to find out whose body was substituted for hers, and who tried to have her killed — her ex-husbands (she has four) or her brother, all for wealthy inheritance.

There’s a lot of gum-shoeing around, petty and curious characters, a bit of sex, and some confusion about what’s going on, but it’s still worth a read.

Shocking Mistress! by Orrie Hitt (Novel Books, 1961)

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , on April 17, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This is the second book Orrie Hitt did for Novel/Camerarts — the first was Easy Women! — and probably his most political of all, in terms of socialist idealism, labor relations, and the power of labor unions in mid-20sth Century America.

This is more a literary social novel than sleaze or men’s book, as packaged.  Indeed, Novel allowed Hitt to go off on tangents that his other publishers, market-conscious, would not, although Hitt’s books do tend to touch on political and economic issues as farm and hard labor, the rich v. the poor, and insurance scams.

Hitt had a previous union boss book, Dolls and Dues, and had union reps and leaders pop in in The Color of Lust and Frustrated Females.

Sammy Layton is a “honest,” ethical union boss — he’s been through congressional and criminal investigations and has come out clean; he is fodder for editorials and politicians. He wields a lot of power and gets what he wants, claiming he is always looking after the common worker, with his notions of redistribution of wealth.

What is curiously fascinating is that some of what Hitt wrote in 1961 sounds like the rhetoric going on in today’s political climate:

The Mayor: “When you start destroying palaces of the rich, Mr. Layton, the next step will have to be taking away the houses of the poor. You want to redistribute the wealth. You want a socialistic, welfare state […] you’re trying to get something for your workers that they don’t deserve. No man deserves to be paid just because he’s alive. He has to produce. You’re asking for an increase in pay without an increase in production.  Who are you to decide? Let the free market decide.” (pp. 36-7)

Ellen: “This is the beginning of a socialist state, I know. I’ve read about it, the division of wealth and the eventual poverty of the masses because the government becomes everything and nobody is anything.” (p. 107)

Ellen: “I know what’s pushing you and you haven’t even got enough sense to understand it. What you seek is the socialist state where everyone owns a share and that’s only a short jump from the kind of life none of us want […] This isn’t what we need here in a free country.” (p. 123)

What is at issue is a major national strike at the heart of capitalism, that Sammy wants to bleed those businessmen with millions so much that they will have no profit to show.  Sammy does not believe in big profit, he wants the workers to all share the pie equally.  The backlash is that more job sites and businesses will collapse, creating an economic disaster.  Sammy has an agenda, wants to prove a point — he is Obama more than he is Jimmy Hoffa.

His weakness: women, and like all Hitt heroes, he has several lovers floating about:

Ellen, his live-in girlfriend whom he breaks up with early in the novel, and then tells him she’s pregnant with his child;

Sally, his executive secretary that he was having an affair with; she has called it quits but Sammy would still like to dip his wick now and then;

Anna, Sally’s sister, who comes to work for him and sets him up for a fall;

Norma, the young blonde daughter of a construction magnet, Charlie Adams, that he falls heavy for; but se has her agenda with Anna to bring about his downfall.

Sammy forces Charlie Adams into signing a labor contract that will ruin his empire.  Norma wants to stop this, so uses her charms and body, promising him her body if she leaves her father alone.  But she sets Sammy up for a bogus rape charge, and with Anna, they create a bogus bribery to Adams to make Sammy look crooked.

When he’s destroyed, Sammy sees the capitalist light, which is a bit corny on Hitt’s side:

The whole difference between capitalism and communism — or freedom and dictatorship, if you will — is the difference between owning what you produce and having the state own it.  When you own it, when you are allowed to keep what you honestly worked for and made possible according to your talents, then you are free. And other people benefit from it.

But when everybody else — whether it’s your government or union or some hoodlum on the street — has the right to demand that you give up part of what you own, no matter if it’s a million dollars or a hundred, then you’re not free. Then, even if it’s fifty years off or five hundred, the same kind of thing has to result as happened to Russia or socialist England or Nazi Germany.

I never thought America could turn out like that, but suddenly I realized how close I’d come to it. I began to look around me and saw that other men were further along[…] And I realized in that moment what I had never taken the time or had the courage to see before: and that’s exactly what a free country is! a country where each man produces what he can, according to how good he is, and how ambitious he is. I realized that there’s only one alternative to that: pushing the weak men, the less capable men to the top, even though they don’t belong there. I saw that some men have to produce more than others, that nature made it that way, just as nature made the color of our hair different. (pp. 152-3)

In the end, the only good union left in the country, he feels, is the marriage union, producing babies…

On the Hitt Scale, I give this one an 8.2.  An interesting book, a social and political diatribe disguised as a sleaze book, but it gets to be too much at times — you want that ol’ Orrie back with the blue collar worker jumbling dames and trying hard to make a buck.