Archive for obscenity

Taxi Dancers by Eve Linkletter (Fabian Books Z120, 1958)

Posted in pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , on August 14, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Who was Eve Linkletter? We cannot seem to find any info on her and if anyone knows, please do drop a line.

It does not seem she was a man writing under a female pen name.  One, Taxi Dancers has a womanly touch and understanding to it; two, other Fabian titles she did, Our Flesh was Cheap and The Gay Ones, sports back cover photos of the author, an attractive woman, so we see Fabian leading the way of author looks marketing before the NY trade houses did, starting with Truman Capote’s first novel…

Little has been written, in fiction and non-fiction, about the curious early 20th Century occupation of taxi dancing, the precursor of stripping and lap dancing.  According to a wikipedia entry, the taxi-dance hall

is a uniquely American institution that was first introduced in 1913 within San Francisco’s Barbary Coast neighborhood. At that time reform movements were shutting down many bordellos and red-light districts within America’s cities, and strength for Prohibition was gaining. In 1920, when the taxi-dance halls began to enter their steep upward climb to popularity, Prohibition was enacted and made serving alcohol in saloons, bars, and cafes illegal. The taxi-dance hall’s roots can be traced to a number of earlier dance establishments.

There was an early Chicago School of New Sociology study, Paul Cressey’s The Taxi-Dance Hall, started in 1925 and published in 1938, and June Miller worked as a taxi dancer, that Henry Miller wrote of in various books, most notably Sexus. At the end of Last Tango in Paris, we see Marlon Brando at a taxi dance palace (hence the double meaning of the title). In my ethnography, Zona Norte, I discuss the evolution of taxi dancing, and while it is no longer something you can find (in old form) in the U.S., it is still common in Mexixo, where women dance for a dollar or ten pesos per song, and get drinks and tips too.  (NOTE…Borgo Press will soon release a cheaper paperback edition of my dissertation on sex workers in Tijuana and San Diego.)

In Taxi Dancer, women get ten tickets per song, each ticket costing ten cents…they can also get drinks at the bar, and they can get tips from men.  Some meet the men outside the dance palace. The book mainly revolves around young Linda, who went to New York as a high school theatre star, knowing she would take Broadway by storm, and soon destitute and desperate for work…so like many young women in that era, being a call girl, streetwalker, or taxi dancer were quick options.  She is naive about what happens and what is expected at such an establishment.  She is lured in with the promise of making 100 bucks a week, which turns out to really be more like 30 or 50, unless she is willing to sell her body…

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Unnatural by Sloane Britain (Midwood #47, 1960)

Posted in lesbian pulp fiction, Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

I wonder how a lesbian author felt having to, for marketing and legal reasons, have “Two women sharing a love that was unnatural” and “forbidden love in the twilight world of the third sex” on the cover of her novel, especially when she was also her own editor.

Unnatural is the story of Allison’s wandering maze through the lesbian world, and her love for Lydia, a woman who has made Allison her submissive in a D/s relationship.

Is this the same Allison in These Curious Pleasures?  Do the events in this novel take place before the other?  Britain doesn’t say, but it’s possible.  The Allison in Pleasures is hesitant to get into a serious gay relationship with another woman because of past bad experiences, and Unnatural is all about Allison’s bad sexual experiences.

The first is a rape by her boss at her first job in New York. She has come to the Big Apple with Big Dreams.  She does secretarial work and her boss had taken notice of her.  He calls her into his office, plies her with booze, and then makes his move on her…she is frozen, not knowing what to do.  She’s a virgin.  She lets him fuck her.  When he sees the blood on the couch, he freaks out, saying he would never have done it had he known.  Worried about repercussions, he gives her $100 and tells her to go home and look for another job…

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The Curious Case of Sloane Britain

Posted in lesbian pulp fiction, Loren Beauchamp, Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

When pop culture historians and critics write about the lesbian paperback pulp era in the 1950s-60s,  the same names are often use das examples: Vin Packer, Randy Salem, March Hastings, Valerie Taylor, Paula Christiansen, etc., with such classics in lesbian pulp Spring Fire, Three Women, Baby Face, Women’s Barracks,  and so on.  Seldom is the name Sloane Britain mentioned, the pen name of Midwood-Tower editor Elaine Williams, although as both a writer and editor, Williams/Britain etched her own legacy in the history of early commercial lesbian fiction.

Williams started with Midwood in 1959, when the company first formed, acquiring and editing novels by Lawrence Block (Shekdon Lord), Donald Westlake (Alan Marshall), Robert Silverberg (Loren Beauchamp), Orrie Hitt, and Mike Avallone, among others.  It’s not clear when she left Midwood, if she did, but she committed suicide in 1964. Seems her family did not approve of her gay lifestyle and had disowned her, a matter she hinted at in her fiction.  She was 33.

She published her first novel with Newsstand Library in 1959, a paperback house out of Chicago: First Person–Third Sex was a deeply personal account of a third grade teacher’s discovery of her “third sex” passion and desire of a “twilight woman.”  It was reprinted in 1962 by Dollar Double Books as Strumpets’ Jungle (see above pic) , back-to-back with Any Man’s Playmate by James L. Ruebel.

Also in 1959, she published with Beacon Books, The Needle, a story about a bi-sexual heroin addict prostitute.

Her next novels for Midwood were 1960’s Meet Marilyn and Insatiable, like The Needle, written commercially for the market; These Curious Pleasures (1961), however, has the same autobiographical, first-person narrative that her first novel does. In fact, the narrator’s name is “Sloane Britain,” perhaps Williams’ indication that this book is based on her own life, rather than the writer’s imagination. 1961 also saw That Other Hunger. Both books sported cover art by Paul Rader.

Other titles were Ladder of Flesh plus two posthumous short novels published as Midwood Doubles: Summer of Sin and Peep Booth.  Three titles, Ladder of Flesh, That Other Hunger, and Unnatural,  were reissued in the late 1960s with new titles: Taboo and Delicate Vice.

Both First Person–Third Sex and These Curious Pleasures break away from the genre norm of lesbian paperbacks in that they end on a gay-positive note, rather than having the protagonist meet with tragedy for her sins of the flesh or meet a male she falls head over heels with, marries, and lives forever after in heterosexual marital bliss.  Publishers such as Fawcett Gold Medal, Beacon, and Nightstand often required this so the Postal Inspector would not prosecute for mailing obscene material in the U.S. Mails — if the lesbian character meets a horrible end or goes insane over her unnatural lust, or repents from sin and finds true love in the arms of man, then the books were deemed to have social value as morality and cautionary tales; if the books ended on a positive note with women loving women, that, in the 1950s-60s, was considered perverted and sick.  Homosexuality was still considered a mental disease that could be cured with medicine, psychology, or religion…

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