Archive for heroin fiction

Wayward Girl – Orrie Hitt (Beacon #288, 1960)

Posted in Beacon Books, lesbian pulp fiction, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This one is far better than Orrie Hitt’s other juvie novel, The Torrid Teens — both published in 1960 although Wayward Girl was a month or two before Torrid Teens, as tis is Beacon #288 and Teens #294 (we’re talking a month difference here).

The wayward girl is  young Sandy Greening and he white trash nowhere life — she was raped by a neighbor at 14 but liked it, started running with a gang and prostituting at 15, got hooked on heroin (but not too badly) at 16.

Her father is in prison for trying to hold up a gas station and her mother is a lush who runs around with criminals and bad boys.  She in turn runs around with a street gang, is not quite a “deb” but makes herself available for the use of the club house, where she sometimes brings her johns.

She works part time in a deli, where she meets out of town men or dock workers who pay her $5-10, sometimes $20, for a lay.  She believes in giving men what they pay for and sometimes enjoys it.  She wants to work her way up to a high class $100/night call girl and lead a nicer life.

One night an older man offers her $25 and she goes to his hotel room but it’s a police sting and she’s arrested.  She was witness to a murder in a rumble the night before (a rival gang gang-raped one of their debs) but she plays dumb.

She is sent to a special reform school for first offenders, much better she is told than most reform institutes for young women, and far better than prison.  There, she goes cold turkey off the heroin and it’s a hellish two weeks before she kicks it.

Some of the other girls are pregnant, in for drugs or hooking, and half seem to be lesbians or dabbling in the third sex for lack of men.  She vows never to go that route but she is blackmailed into lesbiana by one of the house-mothers, who holds her future well-being in lock.  Still, Sandy finds she enjoys the forced kisisngs and lickings of another woman — “Sandy had never dreamed of the completeness of this kind of love” (p. 92).

She is given a weekend pass to stay with a family in town, only to find that the man of the house — a fat slob of a guy — expects sex from her, or else he will tell the house-mother to give her a bad report and have her sent to regular jail.  He is paying the house-mother $25 for every girl she sends for him to have sex with.  Sandy sees it ironic that she was convicted for prostitution only to be pimped out by the state employees who are supposed to be “reforming” her as a good citizen of society.

The slob’s son, 19, however, falls in love with Sandy and wants to marry her, but she can’t see how he can feel that way for a girl like her, especially if he ever found out she was sleeping with his father.

When Sandy is released, she goes back to work at the diner where men are expecting her to return to doing $5-10 tricks, and where her gang mates expect her to return to the Life of rumbling and shooting heroin.

Sometimes at tad preachy and moral, this is still an excellent read, even with the sappy happy ending.  Hitt seems to be writing a book made-to-order for Beacon, as the storyline is similar to others, but here he does an excellent job.

On the Hitt Scale, a 9.2.

The Needle – Sloane M. Britain (Beacon, 1959)

Posted in Beacon Books, lesbian pulp fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , on April 3, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Sloane Britain/Elaine Williams published most of her books with her employer, Midwood, but in 1959 published the novels First Person–Third Sex with Newstand and The Needle with Beacon.

The Needle is unlike her Midwoods — a very dark, passionate story of heroin addiction and taboo sex.

Gina Morgan is a simple Brooklyn girl in her early 20s who still lives with her old world values mom and dad in the working class section and is going to college to have a better future than a housewife or factory worker. Her parents are the type who “image” to their neighbors is important — they never raise their voices s others will hear and gossip, and they like to brag their daughter is at college, unlike most of the girls her age on the block.

Gina is a serious student, a virgin, and naive, until she meets Bob, an intelligent beatnik who woos her with his wild, ardent, and poetic ways.  His mania and depressions are not psychological and she has no idea that he is always high on heroin. When she finds out, she decides to try some herself and she loves the bliss, the escape from reality.

Soon her grades slip and she doesn’t care about college.  Her parents find out she is seeing a man and she tells them she is engaged, but she isn’t, but then she and Bob do get a quick marriage.  Much to her folks’ disamy, Gina moves out to live with her husband, where they do little but get high and lounge around.  To support their habit, Bob starts to sell H, cutting it with barbituates, which leads to the OD of several upper class rich kids, age 15, and the cops start looking for Bob and Gina.

The next thing Gina knows, Bob has turned her into a hooker and she’s turning tricks to support their addiction.  How did this happen?  She doesn’t care about the sex as long as she’s so high she’s somewhere else in her head while men use her body.

She gets hooked ip with Alex, a mob guy and major heroin distributor, in hopes of getting the stuff for free in exchange for sex. But Alex falls for her, and he wants her to go clean.  Bob is arrested and hangs himself in jail while going cold turkey. Alex puts Gina up in a Greenwich Village apartment and slowly weans her off the horse.

But Alex’s striking green-eyed sister, Lois, also falls for Gina. Lois is an Ivy League girl, has been under her brother’s wing since she was 10 and their folks died. She has no idea her brother is a pusher, she thinks he makes his money on Wall Street.

When Alex finds Gina and Lois naked in bed, he joins them, and fucks them both…

Gina goes along with the incest, for a while, until she feels rejected by bother her lovers, this brother and sister, and she heads back to the one thing that will soothe her pain: that white pony.

Like Robert Silverberg’s Don Elliott penned Love Addict, this is a fascinating and literate story of the young female addict, a staple of the dope sub-genre of the sleaze book market.  It may be the best of Britain’s books, next to These Curious Pleasures. The depth of despair and loneliness is heavy in this novel; we really feel and see Gina’s sorry world, a simple girl who falls in love three times and is betrayed and hurt.

An A-minus and a recommended read; however, the book seems to be pricey on the market.

Mona by Lawrence Block (Gold Medal, 1961)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Block - Mona2An early Block with quite a history. It’s been reprinted twice since its Gold Medal debut in 1961 — as Sweet Slow Death in 1986 from Jove, Mona in 1994 from Carroll & Graf,  and as Grifter’s Game as the the first offering from Hard Case Crime in 2005.  A lot of mileage for an old title that has now become somewhat a classic in 60s noir.

block-791579I read somewhere that Block had started this one as a Nightstand title, and $20 Lust as something for Gold Medal or Beacon, but things got switched around, and when his agent Henry Morrison at Scott Meredith read the manuscript, he concluded it was good enough for Gold Medal and under Block’s own name.  Thus, Mona became the first paperback Block had his name on the cover, instead of Lesley Evans, Sheldon Lord, or Andrew Shaw.

There’s a Mona, a dead ex-wife, in $20 Lust (aka Cinderella Sims), talked about earlier, and a number of Monas show up in Block’s Andrew Shaw books.  She’s like Harry Whittington’s Cora, popping up often in different, same soul.

Block’s many Monas are just no good…tramps, cheats, and liars all…

Continue reading

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