Archive for obscenity laws

Lust Campus — Andrew Shaw aka Lawrence Block (Midnight Reader #408, 1961)

Posted in Lawrence Block, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , on March 26, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

The third title, along with Crossroads of Lust and Passion Bride, that was deemed obscene in the court case People v. Sikora, 32 Ill. 2d 260, 267-268, 204 N. E. 2d 768, 772-773 (1965), and later footnoted in a 1977 Supreme Court Case, Ward v. Illinois, appealing a conviction for selling obscene materials. Justice Brennan noted in footnote 3 of his dissent:

“`Lust Campus’ by Andrew Shaw is a story of sexual adventures on a [431 U.S. 767, 772] college campus `where even members of the faculty taught sin and evil.’ The book describes homosexuals `necking’ on a public beach; mutual masturbation; self fondling; a circle of persons engaged in oral-genital contact; rape; intercourse; lesbian intercourse; cunnilingus and flagellation; flagellation with barbed wire; an abortion with red-hot barbed wire; masturbation with a mirror reflection, and a transvestite episode.

Yeah, it has all that, but it’s a disjointed book.  Block was at his least when he did multi-character college campus sleazsy books; he was better at the first-person and crime stuff, which he later went on to excel at with Gold Medal and other places.

I also detect a hint of Donald Westlake’s style popping in and out, but it’s mostly Block done in eight very long chapters.

It opens interestingly — Mike Fisher is on a beach and he thinks, while sunning himself, he is being fondled by a gay guy, and he attacks the person, punching them, but it turns out to be a girl, Linda.  They wind up dating but she won’t give her virginity to him, she just lets him findle her and get her top off.  He tells her he loves her, hoping she will give her cherry away, but she doesn’t.

From there both Mike and Linda go off on various sexual adventures in and around New York City, without cohesion.  In a weird way, this reminded me of Don DeLillo’s style, such as in Players or even the recent Falling Man: an event happens to a man and woman, and then they both go off on their own adventures and travels as a result of the event.

For its place in U.S. court history, the book is worth a read but I can only give it a C+.

So Wild the Flesh by Mel Corbin (Saber Books, 1969)

Posted in pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

I picked this one up for he cover. Saber/Fabian books always had slightly odd-looling people on their covers — maybe more odd than Novel/Merit Books art and photis.

But what is the story behind this almost-naked woman pointing a heater at this fellow’s noggin?

You never know what you’d get with a Saber or Fabian from Sanford Aday’s company — sometimes good stuff, sometimes awful shit.

The book — short, at 35K words or so — starts off with Eddie, a newpaper reporter, getting a vist by a girl named Sharon who says he has to help her, her life is in danger, someone is out to kill her.  He suggests that she hire a private eye but she thinks having a reporter writing about her plight would protect her, if the public knew.

He goes along, as he thinks about her pussy and his “shaft gets hard looking at her.”  Thats the thing with this one, publihsed in 1969:  the indency laws had become lax and the books started to get hardcore. So there’s plenty of sex here — straight and lesbian, and lots of talk about vaginas and dicks.

Hardcore has its place, I have certainly written my share of it, but here it seems to only cheapen the novel than add to it, almost as if the sexual asides and thoughts were added in to an existing manuscript.

Plus, it’s hard to follow what the hell is going on. I was lost. I couldn’t get past page 50.  What was this all about, or was the set-up just an excuse to write explicit sex scenes?  Sharon takes Eddie to her big home — she’s rich — where her mother and a servant live, and all kinds of sex follows.

This is porn, but I ca’t say it’s good porn.

Others might like it.

Have no idea who “Mel Corbin” is.  Seems the name is only on this one book.  Could have been Aday writing under a pen name.

It’s interesting to consider that had Saber published this novel ten years earlier, a lot of people would have been behind bars, and indeed, by 1963, Aday did wind up doing time for Sex Life of a Cop, which was far less explicit than So Wild the Flesh.  But the cops and local authorities in Fresno, California, had been after Saber for a while, losing several court cases on obscenity. With J. Edgar Hoover watching quietly, gioing after all sleaze publishers, they were bound to get Aday on something, just as they got William Hamling and Earl Kemp later on.

We must keep in mind that it was not long ago, in America, that people were illegally spied on and harassed by the government and went to jail for practicing first amendment rights.  And while things are different now, as George Orwell warned us in 1984, things could easily revert back to 1950s suppression and repression.

In that light, the fact that Saber published a book like this as an act of free speech is not only comendable, but noteworthy in the history of publishing and the First Amendment.