Archive for Connie

April North by Sheldon Lord (Lawrence Block) Softcover Library, 1961

Posted in Loren Beauchamp, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Lord - April North

Like “Andrew Shaw,” Sheldon Lord was an early pen name shared by mystery/crime authors Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake, later used by others, for Beacon, Softcover Lib., and a couple Midwoods.

April North is Lawrence Block — his early style is easily identfiable, it’s set in midwest Antrim, Ohio, not far from his alma mater, Antioch College (featured in many Shaw Nightstands).  There’s also the mention of a film, The Sound of Distant Drums, some sort of in-joke connection found in all Shaw novels and others.

April North is 17, a senior in high school, and a good girl from a good, Christain family.  She has been “going steady” with a football/baseball jock, Duncan, and believes he loves her and intends to marry her — thus, one night, she “goes all the the way” and loses her virginity to the boy.  Like many a naive girl in these books, she thinks this is a contract for marriage.

Now that she has “done the dirty,” Duncan wants nothing to do with her.  She is not wife material and tells all his buddies she’s a tramp.  Within a week, all the boys in her class are calling up for dates, and Duncan breaks up with her.  She has sex with another boy in a field — as shown in the nifty splendor in the grass cover art — because she is dazed at her new reputation, and word gets “around” in the small town that se’s easy.

Knowing her rep is ruined forever, she withdraws her savings ($500) and decides to run away to New York City.

I thought this was going to be like Loren Beauchamp’s Connie — she would become a call girl in NY as a revenge against the men who hurt her.  April seems a lot like Silverberg’s Connie.  But before April can catch the NYC-bound bus, she crosses paths with Craig, a 27-year-old ladies man in a Mercedies 300-SL, who has inherited a fortune from his dead parents.  Craig convinces her to stay, to shun those who mock her, and he will teach her to be a sexually wise, wordly woman.

She falls in love, of course, and has visions of wedding bells with this lover-man, until she attends one of his orgies.  She ignores the rumors she has heard that he seduces young girls and degrades them — she believes she is different and that he loves her.  She discovers that all his rich, literary, and “world weary” friends are all alcoholics, drug addicts, and lost as anyone — and that Craig, despite his wealth and car and looks, is at heart empty and a loser.  To keep her from going home and to stay with him, Craig has mailed secret photos of her having sex with him, an a drunken lesbain encounter, so her parents will disown her.

Trying to escape Craig, she is picked up by her ex-, Duncan, in the rain.  She thinks he will help her get her to NY but leads her to a barn where he has arranged for 20 boys in town to come and have sex with her in a gang bang, $5 a piece.  “Work for the money you need for New York,” he tells her.

The second boy she had sex with, Bill, comes to her rescue and they run away and live happily ever after.

The book fell apart about 75% the way in, and rushed to a sappy romantic ending, as if Block was closing in on his reqyured 50K words and he needed to wrap up.  Otherwise, a fast-paced novel with good characters, and an interesting early-era Block novel.

Here is the cover for the UK editi0n:

Lord - April North UK

Connie by Loren Beauchamp (Robert Silverberg)

Posted in Loren Beauchamp, Midbook Books, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on May 25, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

midwood - connie

While writing as Don Elliott and John Dexter for Nightstand, Robert Silverberg was also writing as Loren Beauchamp, David Challon, and Mark Ryan for Midwood.  Connie (Midwood No. 18) was a huge bestseller for Midwood, going through four “big printings” and two different covers, both by Paul Rader — above and here:

midwood - connie2

I have the third printing with this second cover.

Connie is told in the thid-person and through the eyes of an innocent teenage girl in Brooklyn.  True to Silverberg’s format for many of his softcore titles, he presents a character the reader cares about who has tragedy befall on them, something so terrible it ruins their lives and changes their worldview.

Connie is 17 and a senior in high shcool.  Her steady beau is a freshman at Syracuse.  Since 15, she has had her entire future mapped out with this boy: the “pinning” for a year,  a year of engagement, marriage at age 20;  house, career, three kids, vacations in Europe, grandkids, gwoing old and happy without a worry in the world.

She writes her future husband every day.  One night, she walks out to the mailbox to send a letter and is kidnapped by a gang out 11 jevenile thugs (big deviant theme of the 1950s, along with beatniks, alcoholics, and wayward wantons); they take her to an abandoned shack and gang rape her for hours.  She is a virgin; she has been saving herself for marriage.  While the rape is brutal, and she comes in and out of conscioiusness, she is shocked when she feels pleasures and has the occasional orgasm. She does not understand this and the gang takes this as  a sign that she’s into it.

The rape devastates her parents and numbs her boyfriend.  She is sent to Arizona to stay with her grandparents for the summer and let the scandal die down (her rape was in all the papers).  While her boyfriend said her “soiling” would not affect their plans, he eventually mails her a break-up letter.

Connie is angry with the world, with men — the gang kids who defiled her, the boyfriend who abandoned her.  She takes a walk, goes into a bar, lets an older man buy her some drinks, and goes to his motel room and has sex with him. She enjoys it.  When the guy is alseep, she opens his wallet and takes $10 and decides she will become a hooker.  She will get back at the world and at men by becoming the opposite of what society expected of her, and never giving her pussy away for free.  She will make men pay; she will make the world turn in shame for her depravity; she will defy and rebel, all in the same of money and fast sex.

She moves to San Francisco without telling her parents where she’s off to and sets herself up as a freelance call girl, first with a man who helps her with her luggage.  She is hot, claims to be 22, and men want to date her; but after dinners and before sex, she informs the men a fuck will cost $25.

Within months she has a long list of clients and referrals and is being paid $100 a night by wealthy older men.  She’s ineperienced at sex at first but soon learns things as she new client has his various kinks and wants, from slapping to anal.

Connie is a romance novel, really; it has that feel of the lost little girl who just wants to be loved.  She does fall in love with a rich cilent who sets her up in Los Angeles: a room in a Beverly Hills hotel ($40 a night!) , a salary, a promise to leave his wife and marry her.  The client turns out to be a sadist who just wanted a mistress.  Connie’s heart is broken and she attempts to commit suicide at the Beverly Hotel.

Her doctor, who gives her a blood tranfusion,  falls in love with her and she falls for him and…

The keen reader will know that this book is not written by a woman.  There are too many men’s fantasies going on: her orgasms during rape (though many rape victims report this does happen, adding to the shame of the experience), her quick willingness to become a whore, the way she speaks.  But this book was not meant to be marketed to women like regular romances.

It’s an engaging story. I admit to a guilty pleasure: I could not put it down, the way you can get sucked up in watching a soap opera and not realize it.  There are a lot of typos and printer errors, but these are to be expected from quickie books.

Like the Don Elliotts, the Loren Beauchamps are of higher writing quality than most sleaze books of the 50s-60s.

I have all the Beauchamps and will talk more as I read them this summer, slowly writing my Silverberg monograph.