Archive for the Orrie Hitt Category

The Wheel of Passion by Charles Verne aka Orrie Hitt and Joe Weiss (Key Publishing, 1957)

Posted in lesbian pulp fiction, noir fiction, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on January 12, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Orrie Hitt, with (we believe) Joe Weiss or someone else, used the pen name Charles Verse twice: Mr. Hot Rod and The Wheel of Passion, the pen Roger Normandie four times, and possibly Fred Martin with Hired Lover. The Key Publications books all came out in 1957 and were in hardback.  The telltale signs are alternating chapters with different writing styles, hardcore S/M spanking scenes, and sections in italics.  The language is a tad more racy than that in the paperbacks.

The Wheel of Passion covers territory that Hitt would later re-vise in Carnival Girl, Carnival Honey, and Carnival Sin.  Yes, the narrative is set around a carney, focusing on Bunny,  a terribly gorgeous redhead with a 38-inch bust, whose father owns a carney business and has kept her shielded from that life, sending her to private school and raising her in a upper-middle-class community. Her father has just run away and married one of the carney dancers, a woman half his age, so is incommunicado; the carney manager comes looking for him, frantic because several routes are in dire financial need.  Bunny decides she needs to jump in and help the family business.

Sounds like the exact plots of Carnival Honey and Carnival Girl..because all three books are the same story, but The Wheel of Passion is the first.

So Bunny jumps in, she becomes a dancer, she has lesbian encounters, she sleeps with the manager, etc.

An okay book. Mr. Rot Rod was the better Charles Verne.

Nude Model by Orrie Hitt (McFadden-Bartell, 1970)

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on January 2, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This is the last original novel Orrie Hitt published before he passed away.  He once again goes to the pet theme of an attractive, uneducated young woman who can only earn money with her good looks. Meg, the model, is a bit of a dupe — she was making good money as a fashion model but she has gained a few pounds in the wrong places, she is not rail thin as the agencies need. So she turns to modeling for magazines and doing stag films, all the while supporting her heel boyfriend who is supposedly going to college and constantly needs money, she thinks for school but he has a gambling problem and debts to settle.

Hitt doesn’t explore anything new or unique here, repeating a number of past books, but, unlike his later 1960s titles, it is cohesive and straight forward — books he published after 1964 all seemed to be uneven and sloppy.

So, with this last book, we reflect on the career of Mr. Hitt: starting off with a handful of well-written novels in 1953-54, a good number of excellent novels from 1958-1960, tapering off into repetition and sloppiness from 1951-64, and a handful of badly written books from 1965-1967.

Failing health could have attributed to the decline of quality, as well as being burnt out and the demands of his publishers for trash, rather the political commentary his books from Novel and a few from Beacon had.

We wonder if there were any unpublished books left around when he died, and which books out there were stolen manuscripts published by fly-by-night companies that he got duped into, for the need of a check.

She Got What She Wanted by Orrie Hitt (Beacon Books #101, 1954)

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on December 28, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

She Got What She Wanted was Hitt’s fourth novel (I’ll Call Every Monday, Love in the Arctic and Cabin Fever the first three) and, more significantly, the very first Beacon Book (although Universal Publishing had previous imprints, like Uni Books). Like Shabby Street (Beacon #104), it is 90,000 words, longer than your usual 50-60K word paperback of the era. Unlike Shabby Street, the extra words makes for unneeded padding and banter.

The novel opens the way a good number of Hitt tales do (Sheba, Carnival Girl, Ellie’s Shack, etc.), with a finance company collector coming by the house looking for money, or for things to take to satisfy an account.  Della Banners, a buxom blonde 20 year old, has good-for-nothing parents who leach off her meager earnings, a mother who is lazy and a father who is a fast talker and owes a lot of people and companies money.  The collector wants to take the car but Della owns the car and she is not a debtor. She is sick and tired of her home life — the back cover states “Della was white trash” and promises to be a sordid yarn about a girl from the wrong side of the streets who uses her body and sex to manipulate men to get ahead.

Well, right and wrong. Della does learn how to use her womanly charms to get ahead in life, but this is no sleaze novel, not in the genre sense and not like the books Hitt did in the 1960s. This is as close to a literary or morality novel as Hitt ever got…this is a work of actual literature, with a couple of snide remarks about boobs and some sex scenes tossed in to make it a classifiable sleaze book.

Like in his 1958 book, Sheba, Della quickly learns the art of sales for her lack of years and experience. While Sheba was about selling used cars, She Got What She Wanted centers around door-to-door sales of roofing shingles, a job Hitt actually had (and like his other books that give intricate details of insurance sales and food distribution and hotel management, Hitt made good use of personal experience).

Della leaves home and goes to another city, sells her car and looks for work. She forgets to sign her pink slip right and a man comes by her room to get her right signature, a man named Jack who is a smooth operator and roof shingles salesman.  He tries to make some moves and she resits; he tells her he could hire her as a “canvasser,” someone who does feeling around for potential customers, and then Jack goes in later to close the deal. Jack says women are best used as canvassers, for their looks, of course.

Della proves to be good at it, and a month later she finds that Jack is not the smooth and confident salesman he made her believe — he has his moments, but at times he sinks into despair and drinks too much and vanishes and messes up sales. She soon realizes that she has her shit together better than him, and the manager makes her a closer, and later recommends the home office that she manage a new office in another city.

Now, she is barely 21, and they have never had a female manager before. She meets the boss, Roger, at a party, and he takes her back to his room, drunk.  She encourages Roger to drink more whiskey, and she lets him paw her and make suggestions before he passes out.

Here is where Della gets shifty and uses her good looks to manipulate herself into a better job. She undresses and gets into bed with Roger. When he wakes up, Roger does not remember a thing and here is this naked female employee…she acts like he forced himself on her and she is shocked…and he is married…and he secures her the manager job as long as she “forgets” about his drunken fuck up…

So Della runs an office, and Jack is now her underling, and they do well. Like the narrator of Shabby Street, she becomes a hard-ass boss, firing people without a thought to their personal issues and need for work. And then she and Jack come up with a plan to swindle some side money from the company, by having their own little company supply materials for jobs; the swindle is a little complicated, like the case with Hitt’s wonderful novel Pushover.

Della is obsessed with money and the gaining of it, of buying things, of the material things in the world, typical of a person who comes from a poor childhood.  Even Jack thinks she has become too superficial:

“You’re always pricing things,” he said. “No matter what it is.”

“And why not?” she demanded. “The price on anything, no matter what it is, is never right.  It’s either too high or too low, depending on what you’re getting.  You have to make up your own mind if a thing you want is worth the price you’ve got to give.” (p. 205)

Unlike 1960s Hitts, and Beacon titles, there is no romantic wrap up, no happy ending…we were expecting it, that perhaps Jack and Della would wed in bliss, but that doe snot happen — in fact, the ending is quite tragc, almost like a Russian novel, where Della’s obsession with monetary gain, and her treatment and manipulation of others, would make She Got What She Wanted to She Got What She Deserved

We won’t spoil it for you, other than to say what happens to Della is just terrible — but did she deserve it?  Perhaps.

On the Hitt Scale, a 9.5. This is a fine novel, sleaze paperback or literary. A good number of Hitt motifs or thematic set-ups are in this book (thankfully not nude photos) and foreshadow his pet obsessions, mainly how difficult it was for a woman not to have to resort to using her body and sexuality to get ahead in life…

Tramp Wife by Orrie Hitt (Chariot Books, 1960)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on December 15, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This one is basically a re-telling of Hitt’s first novel, I’ll Call Every Monday.  It’s first person, about an insurance guy who gets involved with a married woman whose husband (not older this time) is in the nudie photo racket, and the woman, Sheba, wants to pull an insurance scam and murder.  The narrator jumbles two other women, as all Hitt heroes do, and there are some illegal shnanegins going on within the office and insurance salesman cons.

Had I not read Hitt’s first book, I would have gotten into Tramp Wife more. Despite the horribly tiny type, it’s a solemn, well-paced book, and as usual, Hitt’s deatils of how insurance companies worked back then are fascinating.  Being a rewrite, it is predictable.

Hot Cargo by Orrie Hitt (and ???) (Beacon Books, 1958)

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , on December 9, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

A little different from the usual Orrie Hitt novel we often expect…and somewhat the same…the setting is different, in a foreign land, having to do with gun-running…a bit of style nod to Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not — the hero here is named hank Storms.

Hitt did another Hemingway homage with Add Flesh to the Fire.

Hitt did not write this one alone; he switched off with someone else, as there are chapters in a completely different writing style than Hitt’s. We believe it may be the same person Hitt collaborated with on his Roger Normandie and Charles Verne books, and his one novel as Fred Martin, the excellent Hired Lover, which also has style flip and flops like Hot Cargo….We think Hitt may have paired up with Joe Weiss on those.

Alas, this one is not as fun and good as Hired Lover, or the Roger Normanies. This one was not a pleasure to read, but maybe we are missing something.  James Reasonor liked it. Three stars at Good Reads.

We LOVE the cover, though! Classic sleaze…

Libby Sin by Orrie Hitt (Chariot Books, CB1617, 1962)

Posted in lesbian pulp fiction, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on October 2, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

The titles ol’ Orrie did for Chariot Books (and later New Chariot Library when the outfit moved to Los Angeles) tended to be mediocre, manuscripts he probably was unable to sell to Beacon or Midwood…or they were revised versions of other books about hotel managers, nudie pic models, and tough guys.

Libby Sin is about a 22-year-old voluptuous stripper who acts like she loves men on stage, but loathes them off, preferring the sexual interest of women only.  This mostly has to do with her two bad experiences with men when she was younger: one a rape and one a broken heart.

But that could change with Harry Gordon, the owner of a club that’s hired her traveling act for a longer stay.  He’s a lonely, wealthy man whose wife contracted polio and is bedridden, almost comatose, having had two heart attacks.  He is too noble to have turned his wife away to a home or nothingness.  This touches Libby, and she thinks she could go straight with him, until the night she gives herself to him and he flips out, calling her a whore, a tramp, everything else for “seducing” a married man and being easy…

Now she knows why she prefers women…one is a new girl that Libby is training to be a stripper and sharing Libby’s motel room, then bed…although the girl is confused about the third sex…

Not one of Hitt’s best, but not his worst either. He does spend some quality prose time getting into the head and motivations of Libby.

One cool aspect of the Chariot Books is that they often included interior photos of models…

Too Hot to Handle by Orrie Hitt (Beacon, 1959)

Posted in Beacon Books, noir fiction, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on September 12, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This may be one of Hitt’s darkest novels. The keyhole peeper cover suggests this might be a peeping tom book but it’s not. Too Hot to Handle focuses on one of Hitt’s pet themes: young women in the 1950s who, out of bad circumstance, need, and blackmail, wind up as call girls, street hookers, or nude models.

Kay comes from the wrong side of town, Orchard Street, the red light district of sin and booze and crime. At fourteen, she is seduced by a friend of her father’s named Lucky. After teaching her all about sex, he tries to enlist her as a call girl for his operation. She had no idea he was a two-but pimp. She refuses.

At nineteen, she gets a job in a law office and winds up marrying the boss’ son, Burt, much to the boss’ chagrin — Kay is from Orchard Street, she’s not Ivy League class as he had hoped for his son, who just finished law school.

Burt tries opening his own office and they are poor, struggling, unable to meet rent on their West End Avenue apartment. To make matters worse, Kay’;s mother gets stomach cancer and the hospital wants to be paid or else no care and surgery (perhaps a political statement on Hitt’s part about the lack of universal health care).

Kay meets a married woman named Iris who seems to have a lot of money; she tells Kay she secretly works as a call girl for this “rich” old woman, Mrs. Gordon, who only deals with high-end executive businessmen who pay top dollar for the best girls — $100 an hour, when most hookers can only get $10-15 (and 100 is like $1500 in 1959 money).

Kay is facing too mnay bills — rent, groceries, her mother…so she does it, and finds she likes it after a few drinks until later when the guilt sets in. The men give her high marks — she’s so on sexual fire that she’s, yes, too hot to handle; when she tries to quit, Mrs. Gordon threatens to tell Burt what Kay is doing, so Kay is blackmailed into staying a call girl, although she does like the money. She also has a lesbian fling with Iris, after a bad drunk night when she has sex with five businessmen and passes out and they leave her alone in the room, and she didn’t get paid.

She felt the pain and she knew that he was taking her. She moaned, crying for herself and what she was, and she felt his lips on her mouth, lips that were filled with the wildness of passion, lips that became more furious…

She remembered little after that, except that men came to her, and went away.

“Wonderful,” she heard one of them say.

She didn’t know who said it and she didn’t care. She was earning money, earning it the way some girls did on Orchard Street, and that’s all she knew. (pp. 86-87)

Iris dies in a botched abortion (a common occurrence in Hitt’s and other sleaze books) and Kay has to hire a young girl, Debbie, to take care of her mom, only Debbie seduces Kay’s drunk father and blackmails Kay – the dad either goes to jail for rape or pays $2500 to settle.

The atmosphere of this novel is bleak and depressing, more than the other books Hitt did with this theme. Kay is faced with no-way-out situations.

When she wasn’t working or with Iris she would drink alone and it was then that a wave of disgust and self-pity needled her. She was married to a man that didn’t give a damn  about her. She was a call girl. And, if that wasn’t enough, she was a lesbian. (p. 100)

This is true “sleaze” because none of the sex is exactly sensual but acts of drunken desperation and sad loneliness. Sex becomes nothing more than a business transaction for Kay, and soon she’s working sidelines at bars, having men every hour, her husband finds out and leaves her, and Kay keeps drinking more and more until she’s a complete lush and gets arrested by the vice cops…

After reading a slew of Hitt duds (to be expected from any prolific writer) this one was a vibrant read and enforces our contention that Orrie Hitt is a long lost pulp master who needs to be revived…and soon will be from Stark House which will issue an omnibus edition next year (with an introduction from Michael Hemmingson).

Cindy by Orrie Hitt (Softcover Library UK, 1969)

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on September 2, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Cindy is the UK arm of Softcover Library’s edition of The Sex Pros, published back-to-back with Barry Malzberg’s (as Mel Johnson) Love Doll. It is the second-to-last book Hitt published at the end of his writing career, Naked Model (McFadden, 1970) being the last.

As we have noted over at the Orrie Hitt blog, the work ol’ Orrie did after 1964 isn’t his best, when his output was low and his health bad.  Did he burn himself out? Probably. Was his heath issues causing his writer’s mind to wander? Most likely.  Much of his latter work is either slow and boring, or scattered.

That’s the case with Cindy, alas.  It’s a carnival stripper novel and very similar to his other carney books; in fact, it takes a storyline B from the little Vest-Pocket Carnival Sin: Cindy is in the stripper show and her ex-boyfriend, Eddie, has followed her, becoming the boxer guy that on-lookers pay to fight in the ring.  Eddie hadbeen drafted, and that ended their love affair, marriage plans and hopes, and Cindy took off with a carney as a way out of small time life; when Eddie comes hom and finds out, he goes searching for her.

Like Carnival Girl, another female character has inherited the carney business from her dead father.

Like all of them, the carney is having money issues and must beef up the stripper act to bring in men and money.

The problem with Cindy is that it’s just dull, with a lot of banter, and the sex scenes are explicit and obviously not Hitt writing them (in fact, read similar to the sweaty flesh slapping scenes in Love Doll).

We will soon look at Hitt’s last book, Naked Model, and compare it to one of his early ones, She Got What She Wanted (1954) or maybe Too Hot to Handle (1958), and compare the differences.

Of all his carney books, Carnival Girl is the best of the lot.

Love Doll by Mel Johnson aka Barry N. Malzberg (Softcover Library, 1968)

Posted in Barry N. Malzberg, crime noir, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on August 27, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Love Doll is an early Malzberg 30,000-word novella that Softcover matched up with one of Orrie Hitt’s last published novels, The Sex Pros. Both are about people in the carnival business, old hat for Hitt, something Malzberg never tackled in any other work.

Love Doll is narrated by Danny Heaven, who owns and runs the traveling freakshow of seven-foot tall men, men without arms, and odd women. He hires a knife act most because of the girl, sexy young Emma. He has his eye on her, and she comes to him for help, says she was once married to her partner, got away, but went back, and she’s afraid for her life. Danny vows to protect her, and she rewards him with her body.

The knife guy., Toby, catches them, and says Danny can have her, she’s a whore, and leaves…but he comes back, with violent intent to take Danny out, recruiting disgruntled employees.

Emma’s been a wild one since a young age:

From thirteenth birthday Emma was Lolita […] Emma-Lolita discovered early that her body was a weapon, a tool which she could use to reduce men and boys to confused parodies of themselves. Her virginity did not last to her thirteenth birthday. She lost it in  a stack of hay, sweet and fragrant, to a farmhand named Harry…

Lolita, my own Lolita…

Emma loved it.

By the time she was fourteen, she had taken almost every available man in town but none had left a mark. (pp. 40-41)

An interesting effort for early Malzberg but the text is uneven. It begins in the present tense and then lapses into past tense 1/4th the way through and for the rest of the story.  We’re never quite sure how old Emma is–she’s supposed to be this little Lolita-esque vixen, Danny tells one of carney folk she’s his 15-year-old cousin, but there are references of Emma having been married to Toby for 10 years, so that would make her 24 or 25…

Someone told me — either Malzberg or Malzberg fan Jim Mixx — that a Softcover Library editor re-wrote the ending and that seems to be the case, this doesn’t have a Malzbergian ending but one of those patent sappy romantic endings where all is hell, Danny asks Emma to marry him and she says yes. Danny muses with some irony: “In books, people like us always make it. So we have a chance.” (p. 116)

Roadhouse Girl by Don Elliott aka Robert Silverberg (Midnight Reader #412, 1962)

Posted in crime noir, Don Elliott, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , on July 26, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

The first two Corniths I purchased in 2004 were from Don Elliott/Rbt Silverberg: Roadhouse Girl and Expense Account Sinners. I had yet to read these two until now.

22-year-old Roaslie Lyons in Roadhouse Girl is probably the most dull, pathetic-minded Don Elliott heroine I’ve come across.  Usually even an Elliott call girl or stripper has redeeming qualities, but Rosalie is a simpleton who lets things happen to her and is shocked when she discovers she likes rough sex.  In a way, she is Elliott’s Justine, a girl caught up in a sexual world she doesn’tr understand but still enjoys.  And like de Sade, much of the sex that happens to Rosalie is either rape or S/M.

Rosalie takes a job at a Grove City roadside hashhouse, where she makes decent tips, and has free room and board. Along somes the owner’s son, Johnny, a tough guy who has his way with all waitresses. He’s waiting in her room and rapes her…and she responds to the rape with pleasure, which confuses the girl.

His knee was working its way between her legs. She could feel the rough fabric of his trousers grinding into the soft skin of her thighs. Her ankles throbbed with pain. She thought they were going to snap.

Suddenly he brought his right hand around and tapped her on the chin. Her lower lip and upper teeth came together. She winced in pain, and tasted blood trickling out of the little cut, and in her surprise and fear she loosened the grip of her ankles, and the next moment she had her legs apart… (p. 13-14)

The same night of the rape, she accepts a date with the local wise guy, Carlton, who likes to use whips on his female partners…she responds to the whips, and likes the pain.

Carlton offers her a place to live with hm and before she leaves the roadhouse, Johnny tries to rape her again but she knees him in the nuts. Johnny vows revenge.

She soon discovers that Carlton is quite the sadist. To get even with an ex-girlfriend who left him for a Hollywood mogul, Calrton forces the ex- to perform lesbian sex on Rosalie.  Carlton also ups the ante with S/M and the toys…

But Rosalie likes living in comfort with money. One day, driving one of Carlton’s sports cars in town, she is jacked by Johnny who forces her to drive out to the country where he rapes her.

And so Carlton seeks out Johnny, and Johnny seeks out Rosalie again for revenge, and things get messy…

Another Manhunt-style story, and not too bad of a read. I’d give it a B-minus for treading similar ground as in Stripper!

The 1973 Reed Nightstand edition was called No Pleasure Too Painful and is apparently hard to find…