Archive for Mad Men

The Sex Peddlers – Clyde Allison (Midwood #73, 1961)

Posted in Midwood Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on February 18, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

William Knoles was also writing as Clyde Allison for Midwood Books as wel as Nightstand/Cornith/Greenleaf.

This is my second Allison/Knoles and I am pleased to say it’s a wonderful, humorous, and mature read.  If Knoles had not written this as an assignment from Scott Meredith to provide books for Midwood, I am sure he could have sold thus to a more upscale paperback house like Avon or Pocket or Dell.

This one is about the scummy side of the publicity racket in Hollywood filmmaking.  Roy King, the narrator, is a pure self-made man — a hood from the wrong side of Brooklyn, he took speech lessons from a Shakespearean thespian so he could speak with a slight British accent and claim he went to Oxford and it rubbed off.  With a fake resume and fake letters of recommendation from England, he slides his way into the Madison Avenue game.

The company he works for wants to go Hollywood and buys a small PR firm in L.A. Roy and another guy are sent out to assess the company’s clients and determine what is good and what is bad and what they can fly with.

The major project is a cheesy low budget SF flcik called Amazons from Space, filled with barely-clad day players and extras, women who get completely naked after hours and provide Roy and his cohort plenty of women to paw.

Roy get entangled with two women: an ambitious actress who will sleep with any man who can advance her career, and his young nerdry secretary who looks like a model out of her clothes and glasses.

Roy comes up with all sorts of lies and tricks to get Amazons from Space noticed by the press, and he will stop at nothing to backstab and destroy anyone is his way to success.

Knoles knew the film business well — his family was in it and he was a Hollywood denizen with a slight British accent for his time in England.  Thus it has a ring of truth, and is one hell of a read.  Highly recommended, and I look forward to more Clyde Allison novels.

The Many Faces of John Dexter 0.5: The Bra Peddlers by Robert Silverberg (Nightstand Books #1568)

Posted in Don Elliott, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Dexter - Bra Peddlers

When Robert Silverberg wasn’t Don Elliott at Nightstand, he was sometimes John Dexter, like every other writer in William Hamling’s stable was at one point or another.  People must have thought Dexter — like Don Pendelton  or Ellery Queen — was the most prolific pulp writer in the galaxy.

While Joan Ellis’ Gay Scene had bra models, The Bra Peddlers is about Madison Avenue ad men scheming to sell a new product from Venus Bras: the Up-Cup, a falsie bra that will make flat-chested woman rise, or women who are too big squished down to conventional, less “cow-ish” size.  The material, when touched with clothes over, will fool any person that it’s a real breast — they even have nipples!

Ted Griffen gets the account, moved from sporting goods — it’s a big promotion, and he’s in line to take over the company when the Boss retires, or keels over.  Thing is, he soon finds out that part of the unspoken deal is that Ted’s wife will sleep with the Boss whenever he feels the urge.  Seduced by big money and a future mansion, Ted and his wife, Hazel, agree to this, much to Hazel’s dismay.  But she fears her husband may get fired if she says no, and she does want a better life for her kids.  This is a common softcore theme: women sleeps with the boss or clients so better her husband’s job position…one of Silverberg’s Mark Ryan books, Company Girl, is about this, which I will get to next month, I hope…

Ryan - Company GirlBesides, she has cheated on Ted and he knows…she doesn’t know that he has regular extra-marital sex: there’s his secretary, who comes in and lays on the couch when he needs it…Ted justifies sex this way: with his wife, it’s about ten years of marriage and love; the secretary is just for tension release in his high-tension job.

There’s the occasional woman here and there, too, like one of the senior copywriters, now on the Up-Cup account, who wants to re-kindle an affair that ended three years ago.  Ted has no interest, so this woman sets out to destroy him.

Another copyrighter, a 26-year-old “frigid virgin,”  breaks down at the Christmas party after too much booze, wondering what is wrong with her, why he goes frigid whenever a man tries to make her.  Plus, she feels digusted by the whole advertising biz and the lies they push on the public.  All she wants is to be a houswife and mother, but how will she ever get a husband and have kids when she is afraid to try sex, or has no desire for it?

Ted, drunk too, says he will de-flower her in his office for her own good.  At frst she resists but then gives in, and feels disgusted after.  Over the holiday weekend, she commits suicide.

There seem to be a lot of suicides (Sin Servant, Convention Girl) or attempted suicides (Connie, Unwilling Sinner, Party Girl)  in Silverberg’s softcores, not unlike the suicide in Thorns and other SF works.

The Bra Peddlers is not as good as his other Mad Ad men novel, Woman Chaser, reviewed here, but it is a good, very swift read. I got through it during the one and a half hour train ride to Tijuana. Like Woman Chaser and Orrie Hitt’s Tell Them Anything, reviewed here, these books all read like epsiodes of AMC’s Tv show, Mad Men.

After the suicide of the copywriter, Ted does start to garner a conscience and guilt…and when a lab report comes back that indicates the material in the Up-Cup may cause breast cancer, he decides not to bury the info — but Venus Bras and his Boss do: they are willing to take the chance of harming women in favor of the revenue the product will bring in.

Yep, Ted loses his job. He doesn’t care.  He goes home.  His wife thinks he was fired because sh erefused to sleep with the boss anymore, but he tells her otherwise.  They decide to give their marriage a second go without the temptations of money and material things.

The 1973 Reed Nightstand reprint is The Venus Affair by Jeremy Dunn (John Dexter’s 70s name).

Nightstand - Venus Affair

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.