Archive for carnival

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.

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)