Archive for Bedtime Books

Illicit Affair – Mark Ryan aka Robert Silverberg (Bedside Book #980, 1961)

Posted in Don Elliott, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on April 12, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks



The fifth and last of Silverberg’s Mark Ryan-pen named books for Bedside, it was also the last of the Bedsides from Valient Publications before switching over to William Hambling’s company, which started with a Silverberg/Don Elliott, Woman Chaser, as Bedtime Books #1201.

Illicit Affair and Other Stories of Flaming Passion and Violent Death is an uneven collection of short fiction from the pulps — some are erotica from lower-tier men’s magazines, some are Manhunt-style crime fictions.

The title story — and probably the best one of the lot — is about a suburban guy who gets blackmailed by the sexy babysitter: pay up or the wife sees the photos of them in the embrace of sinful lust!  he finds out that she’s been doing the same to friends of his she babysits for, so the men turn the table on her.

“Love Hungry Diving Girls” is an odd story about Japanese female pearl divers. “Doublecrosser’s Daughter” is a nifty Manhunt or Trapped story (Silverberg doesn’t list previous publications) is told by a guy in a mob crew out to kidnap and rape the daughter of a man mrked by the mob, but the narrator falls for her, kills his crew for her, thinking they will run away together and…well, seems the innocent girl is not so naive after all.  Predictable, but a well-written, well-plotted fun tale.

“See You in Hell” is about a man seeing revenge on his cheating wife, but things don’t work out — another crime pulp-type story. “Isle of Exiled Women” and “The Girl in the Moon” are somewhat SF-fantasy-ish, but weren’t so good.  “The Sunbather” is a nice little depraved story that Silverberg later expanded into a novel, Lust Demon, which I will get to soon.

The book ends with another Manhunt-type story, “Psycho Killer.”

When readers picked this one up on the newsstands, did they expect a Mark Ryan twisted tale like Twisted Loves or Streets of Sin, only to get a mixed bag of short stories?

The book is okay, good for a read if you can locate a copy.

Silverberg and Juvies: Gang Girl by Don Elliott (Nightstand #1504) and Streets of Sin by Mark Ryan (Bedstand #813)

Posted in Don Elliott, Nightstand Books, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Elliott - Gang Girl

The Juvies EllisonIn the 1950s, juvenile delinquents and gangs were hot stuff, the fodder for evening news, rumor, tabloids, fear, and pulp fiction.  Publications like Manhunt featured juvie stories of all kinds.  Hal Ellson’s Tomboy was a bestseller, as was Evan Hunter’s The Blackboard Jungle.  Harlan Ellison joined a street gang so he could write about juvie gangs with an authentic voice in his books The Juvies, The Deadly Streets, Gentleman Junkie, Memos from Purgatory, and his first novel, Rumble (aka Web of the City).

Gang Girl was Robert Silverberg’s second title for Nightstand, after Love Addict and before Naked Holiday.  It came after Ellison’s Sex Gang by Paul Merchant, which featured some juvie gang stories and a cover of a woman about to be raped by a man with a switchblade.

Writing about teenage hellion hoodlums on the urban prowl in the city’s gutter streets, raping and mugging and rumbling and sinning and lusting, was an art form of genre, much like the Western or the P.I. tale.

And like the Western and gumshoe yarn, full of romance and fiction.

Who knows what was truly true and what was good story-tellin’.

Gang Girl is about Lora Menotti, 16, deb in the Scarlet Sinners in the Bronx.  Her family has moved to a Manhattan lower east side project, so she needs to roll with a new gang: the Cougars.  She knows the moves.  She dresses in a tight sweater and tight jeans and goes to the soda fountain where the Cougars hang, finds the leader of the pack, seduces him, has his deb kicked out, and is instantly the No. 1 girl.  The Prez wants to carve his initails in her flesh so she seduces another Courgar to fight him for leadership — it ends in death.

Lora doesn’t have much ambition but to get high on reefer, drink cheap wine, have sex, and get into fights. Her goal at 17 is to quit igh school and at 18 to become a syndicate call girl, where former debs she knew can help set her up.  She will live the good life then: she figures why not get paid well for what she gives out for free and likes?

She feels she can manipulate the Cougars into anything — from gang raping (“lining up”) a girl she doesn’t like to getting into a big rumble for no reason other than to inflict violence.  She secretly enjoys her power, which she uses her body and looks to wield.

But she doesn’t know the other debs, and the deb that was kicked out and the deb that was gang raped, have plans for her — to make sure she is never pretty again…the book ends in horrble violence.

In fact, the book skirts some tricky ground for a softcore: underage sex.  Not only is Lora 16 and screws a bunch of guys, there is a detailed flashback of her losing her virginity at age 11, something she instigates just to get it over with.  Other debs talk about losing their virginity at 10-13, at the hands of uncles or rape; there are stories of girls getting pregnant by their brothers or step-fathers.  Some heavy stuff for softcores that couldn’t even use words to describes genitals or swear words.

Elliott - Streets of Sin

Elliott - Untamed

Earky that same year as Gang Girl, 1959, Silverberg also published Streets of Sin as Mark Ryan with Bedtime Books.  It has a similar set-up as Gang Girl: Frankie Alfono is a NYC hood whose family moves to Brewsterville, Ohio.  He’s new and seeks out the area gang: the Barons. at their soda fountain (funny how these tough kids like to kick it at candy shops and soda joints, whereas today it’s liquor stores and crack houses).  He challenges the Baron’s Prez, they get into a knife fight, and Frankie kills (“cooled”) the guy…suddenly, this outsider is running the gang, he claims the dead leader’s deb, and plans some crimes: a gang rape of a girl who turned him down for a date, destroying a bar that wouldn’t serve him beer, and rumbling with the town’s other gang.

The copy I have and paid $15 for, the six page gang rape scene was missing.  Someone took it out for other uses, I guess.  The girl winds up dead by walking into the river…either accident or suicide.

Frankie is tough and good with a blade, and he has short man syndrome: he’s only five foot three inches and gets dog mean mad at anyone who calls him short and midget (why do I have a feeling that Harlan Ellison was a model for this character?).  Like Lora, he pushes people too far, taking other members’ debs or kicking members out, so that they eventually turn against him.  Plus, the boyfriend of the gang raped girl has it in for him.

Most of Slverberg’s vintage sleaze protagonists are characters we like, even with their lusty and sinful flaws: we identify with them, from the lovelorn fool  in Love Addict to the wayward hooker in Party Girl…Lora and Frankie, however, are both soulless, violent kids who are sadistic and manipulative, so when they come to horrble ends, you cheer for their pain, for they had it coming.

Apparently, Silverberg published a Don Elliott book as Streets of Sin in 1961 but was different, and this one was reprinted in 1966 by Nightstand as The Passion Barons.

Both are intetestng books as representative of the juvenile crime genre, but also a look as how the public perceived juvie gangs, and how the gangs of the 1950s-60s differ from the gangs of the 1970s, 1980s, and today.  Yet, they are the same as well:  they are just kids looking for a sense of cmmunity and beloinging to something greater than they are, with gang codes, and gang girls, that have not changed much over the decades.

Juvie fiction comes along way from the sociological study The Jack Roller, and so has gang fiction and movies like The Warriors.

The 1973 reprint of Gang Girl has an updated cover:

new gg

Love Addict by Don Elliott (Robert Silverberg) Nightstand Books #1501

Posted in Nightstand Books, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Love Addict
loveaddict_1959

This novel has some historical significance in sleaze book publishing, for Nightstand/Greenleaf/Cornith/Blake Pharms, and even in science-fiction history.  Love Addict is Robert Silverberg’s first book for Nightstand, and the first Nightstand, William Hamling’s foray into softcore novels — some will contend it was Harlan Ellison’s idea, although Ellison seems to have divorced himself from his contribution to sleaze publishing — not only did he seem to commission and edit this novel from sexgang1Silverberg (paying him $600, with a $200 bonus when it went into a2nd printing), Ellison wrote the third Nightstand, Sex Gang, a collection of stories that is now a hard-to-find and much sought after collectior’s item, going for $500-800 on the market — hell, a month ago I was bidding on a very poor, falling apart copy on eBay, and someone else got it for $198.

Love Addict is also rare, at least the first printing, but I got my hands on a second priting (1959 edition, Reed Nightstand later re-issued it as a regular-sized mass market ppbk in 1973, see above) for $33.

Silverberg had a previous relationship with William Hamling — he had a $500/month contract to provide text for Hamling’s Imagination, a SF pulp…that went away when the SF market dried up in the mid-1950s.  Harlan Ellison was an editor for Hamling’s Rogue Magazine, a men’s slick compeeting with Playboy.  In “My Life as a Pornographer,” Silverberg explains it:

I was 24 years old when I stumbled, much to my surprise, into a career of writing sex novels. I was then, as I am now, primarily known as a science-fiction writer. But in l958, as a result of a behind-the-scenes convulsion in the magazine-distribution business, the whole science fiction publishing world went belly up. A dozen or so magazines for which I had been writing regularly ceased publication overnight; and as for the tiny market for s-f novels (two paperback houses and one hardcover) it suddenly became so tight that unless you were one of the first-magnitude stars like Robert Heinlein or Isaac Asimov you were out of luck.

I had been earning a very nice living writing s-f since my graduation from college a few years earlier. I had a posh five-room apartment on Manhattan’s exclusive West End Avenue ($l50 a month rent – a fortune then!), I had fallen into the habit of spending my summer vacations in places like London and Paris, I ate at the best restaurants, I was learning something about fine wines. And suddenly two thirds of the magazines I wrote for were out of business, with a slew of older and better-established writers competing for the few remaining slots.

Robert Silverberg and Harlan Ellison in 1960.

But I was fast on my feet, and I had some good friends. One of them was Harlan Ellison, a science-fiction writer of my own age, who – seeing the handwriting on the wall in the science fiction world – had left New York to accept a job in Chicago as editor of Rogue, an early men’s magazine that was trying with some success to compete with its cross-town neighbor, Playboy. (Penthousedidn’t yet exist, in those far-off days.) The publisher of Rogue was William L. Hamling, a clean-cut young Chicago suburbanite whose first great love, like Harlan’s and mine, had been science fiction. Bill Hamling had published an s-f magazine called Imagination, which bought one of my first stories in l954. From l956 on, he had paid me $500 a month to churn out epics of the spaceways for him on a contract basis. Now, though, Imagination was gone, and Hamling’s only remaining publishing endeavor was his bi-monthly girlie magazine.

Ellison RogueHarlan, soon after going to work for him, convinced Bill that the future lay in paperback erotic novels. Hamling thought about it for about six minutes and agreed. And then Harlan called me.


“I have a deal for you, if you’re interested,” he said. “One sex novel a month, 50,000 words. $600 per book. We need the first one by the end of July.” It was then the beginning of July. I didn’t hesitate. $600 a month was big money in those days, especially when you were a young writer at your wits’ end because all your regular markets had crashed and burned. One book would pay four months rent. They were going to publish two paperbacks a month, and I was being offered a chance to write half the list myself. “You bet,” I said. By the end of July Harlan had Love Addict – a searing novel of hopeless hungers, demanding bodies, girls trapped in a torment of their own making, et cetera, et cetera. (I’m quoting from the jacket copy.)

Elliott - Gang GirlBill Hamling loved Love Addict. By return mail came my six hundred bucks and a request for more books. I turned in Gang Girl in September. I did The Love Goddess in October. Later that month I wrote Summertime Affair also. Two novels the same month? Why not? I was fast, I was hungry, I was good.

In October, also, the first two Nightstand Books went on sale – mine and something called Lust Club, by another young writer who also was making a quick adaptation to changes in his writing markets. His book, like mine, was really pretty tame stuff. What we were writing, basically, were straightforward novels of contemporary life, with very mild interludes of sexual activity every twenty or thirty pages. But the characters actually did go to bed with each other, and we did try to describe what they were doing and how they felt in as much detail as the government would allow.

You can read the entire text here at Earl Kemp’s el.

Challon - Campus LobveSilverberg’s essay seems to indicate that Love Addict was his fisrt forway into softcore, but he had been publishing books with Bedside all through 1959 — seven as David Challon and five as Mark Ryan (as far as I can tell), most published in 1959.  Love Addict was written in July 1959 and published in Ocober, so Silverberg was a busy guy, typing away.  Also, Silverberg makes it look like he was approached to write, although Earl Kemp, in “Have Typewriter, Will Whore for Food,” it was Silverberg’s idea to have Ellison pitch a Bedstand-like series to Hamling:

In New York City, popular young science fiction writer Robert Silverberg discovered Bedside Books. At that point in time (1959), Silverberg had already acquired a serious case of Compulsive Writeritus and was looking for new markets to conquer. Bedside Books looked like a natural. In short order Silverberg was selling them manuscripts that appeared under the bylines of David Challon and MarkRyan - Company GirlRyan. The new market direction could be the answer to many writers’ wildest dreams in the very near future.

Harlan Ellison, along with his wife Charlotte, was preparing to move to Evanston, Illinois, to work for William Hamling. Silverberg approached Ellison with the glorious possibilities for the future for energetic young writers and had him all primed and ready for William Hamling so Ellison could lay out the road map to Toontown in front of him.

Everyone thought Ellison was in Evanston to work on Rogue, Hamling’s Playboy-type men’s magazine. Even Harlan thought so at times, and talked about it incessantly, thereby furthering his modest reputation….

Hamling liked the idea of the proposed books and grasped the concept of the throwaway sleazy paperback firmly in his hands. After a bit of formulation, Hamling sent Ellison back to New York City to start the ever-loving money-making wheels in motion.

Harlan Ellison went straight to Robert Silverberg to report on his success with Hamling in the initial set-up phase of the operation. It was Silverberg, not Ellison, who took the proposal to Scott Meredith that eventually opened the doors to the fabled black box clandestine enterprise that virtually flooded the country with soft-core pornography.

I could even stretch the point just a little and say that it was Robert Silverberg that made me what I am today.

So, basically, Harlan Ellison and Robert Silverberg started the ball rolling of what is now canonical history in publishing, freedom of speech, obscenity and censorship lawsuits and criminal court cases, and now a niche collectors realm.

Earl Kemp continues:

Nightstand Books, blatantly patterned after Bedside Books, produced its premier volume, NB1501,Love Addict, by Don Elliott (Robert Silverberg). It also featured what would become a trademark of the earlier Nightstands, a stylized Harold W. McCauley cover painting using flat backgrounds and pastel colors. The McCauley paintings with their heavy emphasis upon sexy women set the style for all the early-on Blake Pharmaceuticals publications. NB1503 was Sex Gang, by Paul Merchant (Harlan Ellison). Both books carried the cover price of 50 cents.

In the beginning those books appeared under the imprint of Nightstand Books. Two titles were published every month by a company named Blake Pharmaceuticals in Evanston, Illinois. Blake Pharmaceuticals was a defunct Illinois corporation that was purchased cheaply by William Hamling. Illinois corporate law, at the time, required three legal Illinois residents to become a corporation. Blake Pharmaceuticals’ three ex-coworkers from the Ziff-Davis Chicago era were William L. Hamling, Raymond A. Palmer, and Richard S. Shaver. Only thing was, Palmer was a legal resident of Amherst, Wisconsin and Shaver lived even further north in Wisconsin.

Producing Nightstand Books turned out to be more work than Harlan Ellison had originally expected to be involved with while operating Blake Pharmaceuticals. So much so that, in early 1960, Harlan quit and returned to New York City. He did, however, continue to write cover blurbs for the books from there for a long time, at $45. per blurb. For a while, it was Harlan’s major source of income

Another co-worker from those glorious Ziff-Davis days, the Amazing and Fantastic cover artist Harold W. McCauley, was also close at hand. Since the company moved to New York, McCauley had been doing lots of artwork for Coca-Cola, creating that fantastic looking virginal girl next door…and an occasional Santa Claus…that adorned many of the Coca-Cola billboards worldwide. During the era of Hamling’s Imagination andImaginative Tales, McCauley painted numerous covers for them as well. He would soon be called into action once more.

Once reincorporated, Hamling redirected Blake Pharmaceuticals into publishing pornography and Harlan Ellison was running the whole show while seemingly running Rogue instead. In those days, in spite of the popular acceptance of soft-core pornography in movie theaters all across the country, an operation like Blake Pharmaceuticals was at the very least frowned upon and was kept, as much as possible, completely under cover.

Toss out the half dozen rather tame sex scenes, Love Addict is an urban novel about a serious drug addiction in the 1950s: heroin, also known as H, horse, junk.  It is also a doomed love story.

Jim Holman is an engineer in the middle of a bad divorce.  Pissed after leaving his wife’s lawyer’s office, Holman stops off at a Brooklyn jazz club to have a few drinks; there is is mesmerized the 22-year-old woman singing with the band, Helene Raymond.  He talks to her, convinces her to let him drive her home…she keeps warning him that she will hurt him, she is no good. She tells him she’s a junkie, and shows him the needle marks on her thigh.  She says she has been off junk for three months but knows she will relapse.  He doesn’t care; he’s in love…

Problem: the band leader is an ex-boyfriend since she was 17.  She has broken it off but he’s possessive and does not like her dating and sleeping with this older man (Holman is 29).  Helene is manic and goes back on heroin, that her ex-boyfriend is happy to supply.

Holman tries to help her quit the habit…he takes her for a two week trip to the Adriondacks. He says he will marry her whne his divorce happens.  She moves in with him at his upper west side apartment.  But her ex-bf tracks her down and gets her hooked again.  Holman murders the guy with his own saxophone.

It wasn’t just the sex and the cover that people bought this book: there was the dark forbiddne underside of jazz hopheads, reefer madness, and shooting junk with shared needles (this was pre-AIDS, of course).

The cover is misleading. First, Helene is a blonde and the girl on the cover had dark hair…two, she does not shoot junk in front of him and the man on the cover is not jazzy beatnik enough to be the band members.

It was good to sit down and read the novel that started Nightstand/Greenlead and set off a series of events that have shaped the freedoms of what wrters can write, publishers can print, and readers can read.

Elliot- List Goddess

Elliot - Summertime Affair

French Sin Port by David Challon (Robert Silverberg) – Bedtime Books No. 820 (1959)

Posted in Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Challon - French Sin Port

Before he was Loren Beauchamp for Midwood and Don Elliott for Nightstand, Robert Silverberg was David Challon and Mark Ryan for Bedtime Books in the late 1950s.  The success of Bedtime sleaze titles on newsstands inspired (by suggestion of Harlan Ellison) William Hamling to start Nightstand, Midnight Readers, etc., as the science-fiction pulp magazine was dying out.  Hamling’s company already publoshed Rogue, a men’s magazine edited by Ellison that was good competition for Hugh Hefner’s Playboy — both were Chicago-based, with quality modeld and good writing (often by Ellison and Silverberg under pen names).  Hamling published books under the Regency imprint (issuring Ellison’s Gentleman Junkie and Memos from Purgatory, and the first edition of Jim Thompson’s The Grifters). (Silverberg also wrote a bio of de Sade for this imprint, which I will discuss in a later post.)

Silverberg welcomed work at Nightstand since Hamling had previusly had him on a $500/month contract for SF stories, and the start pay was $600 with a $250 bonus for sales…later increasing to $800, $1000, $1200, and then $2000 per book as the books sold well and made money.  Bedstand paid $400-500 a book, so Silverberg stopped writing for them when Hamling put him on a two-book a month contract — that was damn good money for a writer back then,  considering that Silverberg was still penning occasional SF, detective and ghost-written stuff, plus his non-fiction books for younger readers.

French Sin Port is an odd, uneven work of suspense and debaunchery.  The first few pages, I wondered if this was Silverberg, as it started rather sappy and superficial about two teenage American girls, Maureen and Naomi, on vacation in Europe for the summer.  First, they spent a month in France, where they find love, sex, and crime.

Maureen’s parents have sent her off abroad to keep her from marrying this geeky accountant (bow tie!) whom she lost her virginity to.  She meets an Ameican artist in Paris and falls in love with him; her friend meets a French guy who invites them down to the French Riveria for a week for fun in the sun and sin a la carte.

Maureen is hot, topless on the beach, and gets noticed by a hunky French guy who is a pimp for a Greek tycoon, his giant 20-cabin party yacht anchored off the shore.  She gets suckered into a big party on the yacht, mingling with countesses and the rich, gambling with money she doesn’t have, and getting the eye of the 62-year-old Greek man, whom she find srepulsive.

She sleeps with the French man, who fucks her like she has never been; she realzies the two men  she’s been with are lousy in bed, inexperienced.  But then the French guy hands her off to the Greek man.  He is willing to pay her money and she refuses.

The Greek man does not like to be rejected, and later he arranges for her kidnapping, where he rapes her.  During the second rape, acting like she is giving in for $25,000, she knocks the Greek over the head with a lamp, runs naked out of the cabin and jumps off the boat.

Returning to Paris, afraid she will be hunted down and killed, she sees the newspaper the next day that states the Greek tycoon died of a massive stroke.  She feels no remorse — she is glad she killed him for the rape.

Maureen acts strange for a rape victim — she sleeps with two other men (one her artist lover) immedately after.  Her accountant boyfriend shows up in Paris, prepared to marry him, ring in hand, but she tells him she’s moving in with the artist.  He tries to rape her too and she bites him and knees him in the nuts — she will not be a victim again.

She’s a bit two-dimensional, though, and this does read like a young writer’s early efforts (Silverberg was 24 at the time).  It’s a fast breezy read; I could picture it as one of those teen sex beach romp movies on the 1980s.

I have not read the other David Challon or Mark Ryan books yet. . . (Note: the number of typos in amazing, as well as a missing Chapter 13, where there is just blank space.)

French Sin Port was reprinted in 1967 by Greenleaf’s Ember Library imprint as Rogue of the Riveria by Don Elliott:

Eliott - Rogue