Archive for Julie Ellis

Campus Queen by Ursula Grant (Midwood 33-682, 1966)

Posted in Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Rader - Campus Queen

As often is the case with me, I initially acquired a copy of Campus Queen because of the nifty Paul Rader art.

Campus Queen fits a double-bill for my wanting to read/review sleaze books that are lesbian or college-set for the next week or two — this one is set on campus at a city university that is an “Ivy League” and seems that it could be Yale or Brown.  And there’s lesbian action — bi-sexuality if you want to get technical.

Previously, I suggested that “Ursula Grant” was one of Julie/Joan Ellis’ pen names, like Linda Michaels and Randy Baker that are Midwood exclusive.  This was upon a quick look at the prose, and there seemed to be some Ellis-like sentences.

Now that I have read it, I know Grant is not Ellis. Have no idea who Grant is, pen name or not. Grant is not a man in drag, this I am almost certain; this reads with a touch of sensitivity that (and I could be wrong) has the female pen all over it.

Grant seems to have only written three stand-alone novels and a couple Midwood Doubles…in fact, I’m, guessing Campus Queen was meant to be a Double because it’s short — 138 pages and small trim size book, is about 35-40K words.[1] For some reason, Midwood made this a book of its own — and I have several 1966 [2] Midwoods that are short and small sized (e.g., March Hastings’ Barbie), so perhaps these were trying out new formats as publishers are liking to do. (The very early Midwoods were digest-sized like Nightstand and Newstand Library, then switched over to standard mm ppbk.)

Campus Queen is an elegantly-written co-ed/dorm/lesbian story that’s not all that original yet still a joy to read.  Nancy Malone is a 19-year-old undergrad wo is eager for experience and shares a dorm with Elizabeth, who has traveled the world and went to boarding school, where she learned, among other things, lesbian sex.

Both girls date guys, and talk about their experiences.  Elizabeth tells her how men from different countris are in bed — Greeks are rough, French are gentle, etc.  They share the same bed because it’s winter and cold, and their bodies are close, but it seems innocent.  One night, Nancy says she wonders what sex with another woman is like and Elizabeth says it’s great, she’s done it, do you want to try?  Nancy is shocked at first but she gives in to twilight sin:

Boldly, she rose to meet her roommate’s naked body\[…]Elizabeth began to move her hands and herRader Girl 2mouth danced over [Nancy’s] body [which] glistened with caresses, her breasts and her belly glowing with warmth […] Nancy discovered the primal rhythms and let her body pick its way to movement, let her hips slowly revolve, let her legs thrash until her heels dug into the mattress […] She was on a rollercoaster that was climbing to the dizzying heights of that first big hill […] She heard herself scream, fingernails digging into Elizabeth’s back and clinging for dear life. (51-52)

Had this little book been published in 1959-61, that third sex scene would have been less descriptive.  And a man does not write lesbian sex like that.

So begins their life as lovers, and like lovers in a cramped living situaion, they fight and bicker.  Elizabeth likes to have sex with many boys and Nancy doesn’t mind.  They don’t compete over men, until Nancy corsses path with

Timothy Forrest, visiting professor in literature, was [the university’s] catch for the year and one of the most celebrated poets in the country.  At the age of 21 he had published his first volume of poetry and became the center of a full-blown literary controversy.  The critics who thought he was prodigiously brilliant had fought vrbal duels in the literary quarterlies with the critics who found him precocious. And dull. (63)

Nancy meets him at the commons and he seems interested in her and she wonders why some famous poet, only 25, would like her.  She says she and her rommate wanted to take his class next semester but they cannot because they are nit juniors.  He says he can swing it to get them in and he does.

Elizabeth is jealous that the poet likes Nancy…she decides that she wants the poet and this angers Nancy.  There is arguing, hurt feelings, but in the end — as these books often end — Nancy winds up in bed with the poet/prof and “it was good. It had never been so good.” (138)

I look forward to reading Grant’s other Midwoods, especially Boss Lady

Grant - Boss Lady

Notes

1. For those interested, most Midwood novels were 50-60K words (200-240 manuscript pages, 158-184 book pages), and pay was $1000-1200, depending on who you were, your history with the company, how well your books did.  Midwood Doubles clocked in at 40K words (140-160 manscript pages, 120-130 book pages) and paid $900. Midwood Triples were 30K words (100-120 manuscript pages, 90-110 book pages) and paid $750.  Info courtesy of Barry N. Malzberg, who wrote some Midwoods as Mel Johnson.

2. It’s always curious to read a book published the same year one was born…puts things into perspective.

Ursula Grant and Other Pseudonyms

Posted in Midwood Books, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Midwood - Campus Queen

Grant - Boss Lady

I ordered these two Ursula Grant Midwoods because I liked the covers.  She only did a couple stand alone movels and a few doubles, but looking at th style, this is obviously Joan/Julie Ellis writing under this pen name. Odd, as the name is not listed as attahed to her, like Linda Michaels and Jill Monte are.

Ellis’ style is too distinct, easy to recognize, and the themes of the above are classis Joan Ellis: the college hellion and the woman going for the younger lover.

I will review these two down the line…but next: an early Midwood by Fred Martin, Hired Lover, that is obviously Orrie Hitt…

midwood - hired lover

Also found out that Barbara Brooks was a female pen name for William Coons, who penned some Andrew Shaws and Don Hollidays at Nightstand…

Midwood - hellcat

Faculty Wife by Joan Ellis (Midwood 32-588, 1966)

Posted in Midbook Books, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Faculty Wife

I bought this book several months ago before I had read any Joan Ellis because I loved the Paul Rader cover — this disproportionate woman with a glazed, dazed barbie-doll look on her face, walking down a campus and all these frat boys and book-carrying academics staring at her ass and wolf-calling her.  This was a rader motif — men are often staring atRader - Sallywomen, or women at women, or women looking at themselves in the mirror…either, someone is observing someone, which draws our attention more to that person.

Of course, this is not what Faculty Wife is about. The wife in question is Fran, a former computer programmer (progressive for 1966!) who is married to a young consumer research wiz who has published key papers and has left the corporate world to teach. The college wants him for his published works — he does not have a Ph.D. and this pisses off the old researchers because he’s well-published and has world experience in the consumer trade field.

Boy this rings a bell — I have seen and experienced the same in literature, sociology, and anthropology: the fellow with no high degree but lots of publications and practical hands-on know-how frightens the dusty Ph.D.’s who can never get their dull work published.

Ellis must know this world too, because she writes with autheticity.

Ellis - Day in, Day OutMany of her books are set in college or high school, often dealing with confused, over-sexed girls age 17-19, such as Campus Jungle, Campus Kittens, The Cool Co-eds, After Class, High Shcool Hellion, Girl’s Dormitory, Odd Girl on Campus, Campus Pet, Campus Rebel, Campus Affair, etc.  Her other themes are young women in the entertainment industry (Flame, Redhead, Pleasure Girl, Daughter of Shame) and young women in the office work life (Temporary Secretaryl, Executive Sweet), and bored housewives (Day In, Day Out, Married Too Young, No Last Names).  She also wrote quite a few of the Midwood doubles and triples under Ellis, Michaels, and some other names.  Rader did the covers of most of Ellis’ books — they seemed a good match.

The hellion in Faculty Wife is not Fran but 19 year old Shirl, a spoiled rich girl who can’t stand to not get her way, or whatever man she wants, student or professor.  She is sleeping with a grad student and the drama teacher, and she has her gun sites on Craig, Fran’s husband.  A newlywed, he has no interest and that drives her crazy, so she sets up a situation and tries to break up the marriage.

Fran is gorgeous, but the students are not chasing her — other professors are, damn that she’s married.  Ellis captures the little petty sexual games within academic politics well.

The nice irony is that Fran, thinking Craig cheated on her with Shirl, goes out and sleeps with the drama prof as revenge…then she finds out Craig neverdid anything and Shirl made it up.  Fran shows no guilt or remorse.

The book ends in a strange, anti-climatic way. Country Girl did too. This seems to be Ellis’ style — a sorta New Yorker-ish literary trick: dangling the slice-of-life ending…

Joan Ellis is really Julie Ellis, who wrote under other pen names for other houses, but mostly Midwood as Joan and Linda Michaels.  Here is an excerpt from an interview with Lynn Munroe:

LM: What pen names did you use?

Julie Ellis: I was Joan Ellis and Linda Michaels for Midwood. I was Jill Monte for Beacon and Domino, and Susan Richard at Paperback Library. My daughter is Susan, my son Richard. Susan Marvin became Susan Marino for one book when an editor at Avon wanted an Italian name on a book. I was Allison Lord and Jeffrey Lord. And I did some paperback originals under my own name before going hardcover/softcover with Simon & Schuster in 1975.

LM: I found some of your books at my local used bookstore in the romance section.

Ellis: I’ve never written paperback romances. Today the term “romance novels” is being widely expanded. I’ve done multigenerational novels, historicals, and romantic suspense.

I will be reading Girl’s Dormitory and Campus Jungle next.

Ellis - Campus Jungle

Girls Dorm

Joan Ellis – Elegant Dirty Books

Posted in Midbook Books, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , on July 3, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Joan Ellis was the pen name for Julie Ellis, who later became a bestselling historical novelist…but in the 50s-60s, she wrote a lot of softcore for Midwood, also as Linda Michaels; other pen names for Bedstand and Newsstand Library.

In Lynn Munroe’s interview with Gil Fox (aka Paul Russo, Dallas Mayo, Kimberly Kemp), Fox says Ellis was too elegant for dirty books…there is a calm elegance to her writing, and her female characters are much more three-dimensional sexually than men writiting as women, but what bugs me about her style is she does use “said” or “ask” in dialogue, but a lot of adjectives, too many, such as:

“Turn around,” he coaxed. “Turna around,” he repeated.

“Okay,” she bushed this aside.

“I’ll pick you up afterwords,” he decreed.

“Smart,” Denise purred.

“She’s very attractive,” Denise forced herself to concede.

“Don;t worried, honey,” he whispered huskily.

All takes from Country Girl.

Ellis - Country Girl

Perhaps it’s just my preference of style, simple he said she said…but Ellis’ style grows on you. Country Girl about a precocious sexy teen girl, Denise, playing love games with two young men she’s dating, one a college guy from the city.  It’s a lot similar to Don Elliott’s Sexteen (no cover scan, Nightsand Books), which has more twists and turns than Country Girl, such as a Elliott/Silverberg-esque gang rape by a group of young thugs, a la Connie (Loren Beauchamp).

Ellis tackles sex on college campuses with Girl’s Dormitory and Faculty Wife.

Girls Dorm

Faculty Wife

Many of her books were illustrated by Paul Rader.

Ellis - Daughter of Shame

Ellis - Hold me Tight

Ellis - Pleasure GirlEllis - Snow Bunnies

Ellis - Redhead