Archive for Earl Kemp

BAYOU SINNERS by J.X. Williams aka Earl Kemp (Idle Hour Book 401, 1964)

Posted in Nightstand Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on March 26, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

J.X. Williams was the original pen name for John Jakes, and then later used as a house name by many, from Harry Whittington to George Smith and David Case.

And editor Earl Kemp…Kemp, when not running the Cornith/Greenleaf imprints, wrote a few titles himself, such as this one (with its nifty Robert Bonfils cover)  and Seance Sinners (which we have yet to find).

Editors as writers is always tricky — are they as good behind the typewriter as they are with the red pen?  There are some former editors who have proven themselves good writers: E.L. Doctorow (used to edit Dial Press), Gordon Lish (Knopf). Harlan Ellison (Nightstand/Rogue/Regency) come to mind…

Kemp is cocky about his role in paperback sleaze and First Amendment cases.

So is this just as good as any Silverberg, Block, Westlake, Knoles, James? No, but it is a good read with a swampy, hot atmosphere. The back cover copy:

SWAMP OF SHAME! Harold Weyman, an ambitious young executive, is assigned an almost impossible task . . . he has to locate Reginald Carminada, the fabulously wealthy sugar heir who has been missing for some time. His new assignment tears him from the arms of Margo, his fiery redhead who likes to sunbathe in the nude [obviously the cover’s inspiration] . . . and tosses him headlong into a world of wild improbability. First he encounters the sinister Hache, the serpentine wanton who cavorts through degradation with Harold in the seclusion of a motel room. Then the lovely young blonde, Rosiemae . . . whose innocence is rapidly sacrificed before the altar of shame, while her pets, the beasts of the swamp, shout their guttural encouragements. Finally, Harold finds himself caught by the swirl of the most ribald voodoo ritual that ever degraded the bayou as the fires of hell flicker toward the gloating moon and the tortures pierce the night like the cruel snap of a whip or the hiss of a devil snake . . .

Harold’s journey from New Orleans to the swampy southern marshlands, where people have old ‘gators for pets, his search for the missing millionaire, is an obvious nod toward Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, a decade before Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (and Robert Parker did one with his Spencer novels). His journey down the river with Roisemae reflects Marlowe’s journey through the heart of the African Congo, full of strange encounters along the way, like Old Cuddles, a grandpappy of alligators, that Rosiemae has known all her life — she knows Old Cuddles won’t eat her, he only likes to eat dogs.

Kemp, being a southern boy, writes his southern characters with flair and authenticity.

There are the sounds of distant drums (a funny nod to Block/Shaw) that bring him to a voodoo ritual where he finds the man. “Reginald Carminada, I prsume?” says Harold, a nod to Kipling.

Sex? There’s plenty of sex in Harold’s adventure into the Swamp of Shame, the Sin Swamp, among the Swamp Lusters,  with all the cautious language we expect from a Cornith — in fact, there is so much use of “Now! Now” and “faster! faster!” that it gives credence that Kemp added these things into the manuscripts of other writers, because they all seem to cookie-cutter.  Silbverberg has said something about Kemp writing in extra stuff to the books.

A fun read. If you come across a copy, get it.

An autograph from Kemp:


Loser’s Lust by Alan Marsh (Donald Westlake)

Posted in crime noir, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , on November 6, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Marsh - Losers Lust

There’s no date printed in the book but most likely it’s 1963, for that brief period  that Bill Hamling and Earl Kemp published the Ember and Pillar titles with house names slightly changed — Dan Eliot for Don Elliott, John Baxter for John Dexter, Andrew Schole (A. Schole?) for Andrew Shaw, Alan Marsh and Alan Marshall…

Apparently it had something to do with a court case that was going on.  It’s never been clear why…

Mona ended in Las Vegas and Loser’s Lust begins in Las Vegas.  I can’t say much because I was unable to get half0-way through this one. It was just…boring…this was not one of Westlake’s best early efforts.  It centers around three characters: a woman who has come to Nevada to file a divorce, a career black jack dealer and woman player, and a waitress in a casino.

Perhaps I am too used to funny Westlake. I like Westlake’s humorous crime books.  He went through periods — I’ve yet to read his noir period stuff. In this one, the action was slow (and the sex scenes come in rather late, surprusing for a Cornith which relied of x number of sex scenes every 18-20 pages to give it “flip appeal”).  The inside information of casino workings, and how black jack delaers operate the game, was cool, but I didn’t care about the charcters and I wasn’t clear on the point of the story.

Maybe there is non point — people go to Las Vegas for many reasons: for fun, for profit, for crime, for divorce, for loneliness…

Westlake fans will find this interesting for hois early voice.

The Many Faces of John Dexter #3: The Abortionists by Harry Whittington (Nightstand #1790, 1966)

Posted in Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Dexter - The Abortionists

One of the “missing 38” of Harry Whittingon’s ouvere, as he produced a book a month for William Hamling and Earl Kemp between 1964-1967, 38 in all (only 36 have been “found,” however).  The books were published under the John Dexter and J.X. Williams house names, and then as Curt Colman, an exclusive pen name for Whittington.

For a while in 1966, Nightstand was issuing books without cover art and with a strange eye-straining design as seen above. Lynn Munroe speculates that a court case may have been going on, like when Hamling briefly spelled the house names differently (John Baxter, Andrew Schole, Dan Eliot, Alan Marsh).  Most likely this is the case, but we might also consider the topic of this novel, which was a political and social suicide bomb in the mid-60s, with heated curltural and legal debate and religious debate on abortion, murder, a woman’s right to choose, women dying in back room abortions, health care, and so on.

Apparently this novel is expanded from a story Whittington published in a romance pulp.  It may have also been an unfinished or unsold nurse novel he had (he wrote a number of them under a female pen name), since the obligatory sex scenes seem to be “dropped in” — the first is a masturbation scene, the next a double rape.

This is a combination southern gothic and nurse tale. Munroe tells the synopsis better than I on his website:

Virginal nurse Mary Hood fights off all the advances from the lecherous doctors at home and takes a job offered by her Uncle in the Deep South. She travels to Mayesville, a town run for years by the Mayes and Conline families, called there by her handsome Uncle, Dr. Mayes Conline. His hospital is located on the grounds of his decaying Southern mansion, complete with insane relatives locked in upstairs rooms and strange goings on throughout the dark nights. On page 100, there is a shocking surprise: Dr. Conline is performing abortions late at night at his hospital. That is, it was designed to be a shock, but the editors put a new title on Whittington’s manuscript, one that gives everything away.

Mary has fallen in love with the brooding and mysterious Dr. Mayes Conline, and the plot twists and thickens from there. Whittington’s challenge was to describe sexual activity without using any naughty words. I think he fares well here when he refers to Mary “taking her pleasure from the obelisk of his strength .”

Dr. Mayes Conline is also her uncle — not by blood, the second hubby of her Aunt Rose, a man 10 years younger, and a seemingly successful good ol’ southern physician.  From the start, Mary is attracted to him, and Conline is drawn to her, and he says, “I must keep in mind that you are my niece.”

A gothic is not a gothic without some incest brewing in the backwoods, after all.  But 19 year old Mary, a nurse, has left the big city in favor of the woods because she loathes the world that orbits sex, a world where men see her as nothing but vagina to conquer.  In one flashback scene, on graduation day for the nurses, a drnk intern, Cal, rapes her.  She had looked up to Cal, even favored romance and marriage, but he forces himself on her — when she runs off, clothes torn, legs and boobs sticking out, and tells one of the doctors what happened to her, the doctor is turned on by it all and rapes her too.  Two rapes back and back — the invitation to be a nurse at her uncle’s southern bacwoods hospital sounds like a good way to get away from the evils of the world.

Hardly…soon she finds out why her uncle works late hours and sleeps till noon.  At night, he performs illegal abortions, where he makes more money than taking care of the elderly and sickly.  Women who have complications and die from the procedure are tossed into a river or left in the woods (back then, some abortionists would have dead patients cremated, to get rid of the evidence).

The novel moves into the moral and medically ethical questioning of abortion, a quagmire for Mary since she has the hots for her uncle.  Whe her aunt dies, the path is clear for romance, but can she love a man who is a murderer of children?

There is also the evil head nurse who gets in the way and hates Mary’s coming into the picture and stomping on her territory — where can all this lead but the fires of hell, physically?  No gothic can have a happy ending, like your usual nurse novel…

Not the best Whittington in my opinion, but not the worst (I prefer crime noir and hardboiled Whittington).

I feel like getting on a nurse novel kick here — next up: Nurse Carolyn by Loren Beauchamp (Midwood, 1960)  and Man’s Nurse by Orrie Hitt (Chariot, 1963).

The Housewife’s Guide to Auto-Erotic Devices in the Home by Jane Long (Greenleaf Classics, 1970)

Posted in Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Housewife

This is one hilarous book, from William Hamling’s Greenleaf as it headed into the 1970s under the helm of Earl Kemp.

Jane Long is, I think, Linda DuBriuel…reads like her style.

This is a faux “sex study” where the author interviews various housewives to find out how they get off while the hubby is away and all they have at hand are common household items.

Many women in my life have confided to me their discovery, a teenagers or earlier, the certan joys of shower nozzles, candle holders, and kitchen utensils.  These things happen.  Read this confession  from this book:

I was vacuuming out the bedroom, I remember, and I was in my usual summertime house-cleaning costume, which is to say, I was nude. Okay, there’s my narcissism coming out again, I know, but it’s just the way I like to operate. Well, there I was stripped to the buff and whirling around that apartment like nine devils were after me. I hadn’t realized that I had this erotic mood coming over me until all of a sudden I looked up and saw myself in the mirror, across the bed. I had the vacuum cleaner tube in one hand; I’d been vacuuming off the baseboards.

I’ll have to admit that I do think I have just as nice a body as those girls who pose for magazine centerfolds. Not that I’ve ever actually seen any of those models in the flesh, but lots of the men passengers leave their magazines behind, you know, and some of them have mighty revealing pictures.

Anyway, as I was saying, I stood there turning this way and that, admiring myself in the mirror. I moved over closer to the mirror so I could see more detail, especially down between my legs, the part I most like to look at. You see, I have this peculiarity: I have a lot of hair up high, on the love mound itself, but I’m nearly bald, I guess you’d call it, down where the lips and clitoris are. It’s odd, or I think so, but it makes it handy for viewing, if that’s what a person likes—and I like it.

I accidentally touched the vacuum cleaner tube to the skin of my thigh as I was standing there admiring myself. It attached itself to my thigh, right on the inner side, about halfway between my knee and my crotch. I pulled it off, impatient with myself for dawdling around, but then I realized it had felt sort of good when I tried pulling it off. Even my thighs get very sensitive to the touch when I’m excited like that, and I saw that I’d hit upon something very interesting.

A recommnded funny sleaze read, and example of Greenleaf Classic’s heydey.  It’s hard to find and pricy but seems Olympia Press has turned it into an e-book over here.

Sex doesn’t always have to be dark and serious.  As my colleague Larry McCaffery has often said, “Too many people never appreciate how humor there is in sex.”  He’s right: when you think about it, all that groping and coupling is hilarous.

Affairs of Gloria by Victor Jay (Victor Banis) Brandon House 806

Posted in Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Victor Jay - Affairs of Gloria

Victor Jay was/is Victor Banis, better known for his gay titles such as The Why Not and The Gay Haunt, and his involvement with the boom of gay pulp paperbacks in the mid-60s, with Greenleaf/Cornith, where he published as J.X. Williams and John Dexter, and later Chris Davidson…he a

But his fist novel was somewhat hetero, The Affairs of Gloria, published by Brandon House, and part of the resaon for his indictment, along with Brandon House publisher Milt Luro, in Los Angeles by the Postal Inspector and Justice Department.

Banis talks about the legal problems in his great memoir, Spine Instact, Some Creases (reprinted by one of my publishers, Borgo Press); he also explains that he wrte Gloria after reading a handful of sleaze.  Gloria doe shave lesbian action.  He says he was paid either $500 or700 for this novel, which as the norm back then — keep in mind, in then-time cash that was $5-7,000.

With The Why Not, he convinced Earl Kemp and Greeleaf that there was a market for gay male books, just as there was a market for lesbiana and straight sex.  The Why Not was a huge bestseller, and Greenleaf went full force into the gay market, followed by Suree, PEC, and others.

He also assembled a group of young men to produce en masse gay novels for Greenleaf, taking a cut and making a modest furtune similar to the way Lawrnce Block and Hal Dresner farmed out work to ghost writers, paying them $500-800 and keeping the reest (usually $200-300, not bad for doing no work).

Gay Haunt - BanisHe wrote one book for Marice Girodas’ New York version of Olympia Press, The Gay Haunt,but seems ol’ maurice ripped him off, not reporting actual sales for royalties (he got a $1500 advance and maybe a few hundred bucks in roys, expecting thousands since Olympia’s first print run was 50K and went through several editions after.)

Banis is still alive, but not really writing anymore from what I can tell, and has had Borgo and some ebook places reprint his old work.

Another maker of sleaze paperback history, and caught up in the battle against censorship in the 1960s. But more, he helped pave the way for modern gay publishing, proving there were more queers in the reading public than the publishers realized back then (Iafter all, lesbian novels were really marketed for men).

Williams -- Goodbye my over

Victor Jay - Hidden FlaneGay Haunt 2

Caves of Iron

Go Down Aaron

Recursive Novels About Writing Sleazecore

Posted in Barry N. Malzberg, Nightstand Books, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 8, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

I recently came across the term “sleazecore” and I like it.

I have obtained copies of two novels that are recursive of the vintage sleazsecore writing career:

Dresner - Man Who Wrote Dirty Books

Westlake - AdiosDresner wrote as Don Holliday, John Dexter, and Andrew Shaw, but mostly Holiday, before selling this novel and heading to Hollywood as Jack Lemmon’s lead writer.  Westlake wrote as the second Andrew Shaw, Alan Marshall, and Sheldon Lord now and then (toss in a Dexter or two), and then flowed into his career as a mystery and crime writer.

Both novels draw on their experieces working for/with Scott Meredith and writing for Nightstand/Greenleaf.

Well, at least these guys got something mainstream out of those many hard (no pun) hours at the typewriters.

There are some memoirs/autobios out there too, such as Victor Banis’ wonderful Spine Intanct, Some Creases (about leading the gay pulp era with Greenleaf, and dealing with the feds and prosecution); CharleGirl Who Writs Drty Bookss’ Neutzel’s Pocketbook Writer (about the Los Angeles-based sleazecore industry);  and Linda deBruiel’s The Girl Who Writes Dirty Books (about the some 300 she wrote, for Greenleaf, Leisure, Dorchester, and others).

The SpreadI would probably toss in Barry Malzberg’s The Spread as well, a novel about a sleaze tabloid publisher cracking up, because the basis is the sleaze publishing industry in general, and Malzberg’s short stint as editor for low-tier men’s magazine, Escapade, and his early Mel Johnson stories for Knave and others.

There are probably others I have not seen yet.

Online, of course, there is Earl Kemp’s e-journal/memoir, el.

Woman Chaser by Don Elliott (Robert Silverberg) Bedside Books #1201

Posted in Don Elliott, Nightstand Books, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

KempIn the April 2002 issue of Earl Kemp’s online zine, el, Kemp writes:

In 1961, in an ironic twist of fate, Hamling acquired Bedside Books from New York, completing the circle to where it had all began in the first place. In a further twist, the first Hamling Bedside Book (1201) was Robert Silverberg’s Woman Chaser, by Don Elliott.

Elliott - Woman Chaser

Bedside/Bedstand Books was Nightstand’s competitor, or vice versa, and William Hamling got the idea of getting into softcore because Robert Silverberg sugegsted to Harlan Ellison to suggest it to Hamling.  Silverberg was writing for Bedside as David Challon and Mark Ryan, as I have discussed earlier in this blog.

Under Hamling’s ownership, Bedside started with 1201, so why not begin with Nightstand’s top writer?

Woman Chaser is like watching an episode of Mad Men, the hit AMC TV show set in late 1959/early 1960, about the office antics and outside affairs of Madison Avenue ad men…so much so that I now wonder if the creator of Mad Men read Woman Chaser and borrowed some from this out of print, long lost Silverberg novel.

Like Mad Men, everyone smokes and drinks all day, and the men in the ad office chase skirts, married or not.  The protagonist, Curt, is a notorious womanizer and lead copywriter (like the lead character in Mad Men). He’s 29 and just got married to Nina, a gorgeous magazine writer working on her first novel. He’s been caught, but his pussy chasing days are not over…he can’t help himself…a bra model comes in…he takes her to dinner…she takes him home…he falls asleep…Nina knows, she smells the other woman on him, she knows her husband is a oussy hound, but she forgives him…and keeps forgiving him.

This is a novel about a man cracking up, his life going to hell. But why?  He’s well paid, moving up in the world, has a wife all men drool for…he starts losing it because he tries to fight his womaniaing urge.  He starts to drink too much, he loses weight, his ad copy is average instead of top notch.

In most Elliott/Beauchamp books, it is a woman who cracks up, drinks too much, becomes a nympho or a a whore.  Silverberg turns the tables here.  Curt is a sex addict — he is addicted to the chase and conquest, he needs new women, new pussy, new flesh, that is his drug.  Without it, he becomes sick and crazy.  It does not matter that he has the world’s most beautiful and devoted wife at home — he needs the wild side, he needs sin and gutter filth sex.

Like Dina in March Hastings’ The Drifter, Curt checks into a fleabag motel and tries to commit slow suicide by drinking himself to death.  Was this common in the early 1960s?  His wife Nina and a friend from work find him and save him…

Like Summertime Affair, Man Mad and a few others, with a little tweaking and toned down sex (as if it isn’t toned down enough), Silverberg could have published this book with another publisher at the Young RStime — Dutton, Lippincott, Scribner’s Sons — as a literary novel, it’s that good, and that interesting.  I’m sure Silverberg doesn’t see that, then or now, but this is a gem of a little novel and worth reprinting.