Archive for pain

Roadhouse Girl by Don Elliott aka Robert Silverberg (Midnight Reader #412, 1962)

Posted in crime noir, Don Elliott, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , on July 26, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

The first two Corniths I purchased in 2004 were from Don Elliott/Rbt Silverberg: Roadhouse Girl and Expense Account Sinners. I had yet to read these two until now.

22-year-old Roaslie Lyons in Roadhouse Girl is probably the most dull, pathetic-minded Don Elliott heroine I’ve come across.  Usually even an Elliott call girl or stripper has redeeming qualities, but Rosalie is a simpleton who lets things happen to her and is shocked when she discovers she likes rough sex.  In a way, she is Elliott’s Justine, a girl caught up in a sexual world she doesn’tr understand but still enjoys.  And like de Sade, much of the sex that happens to Rosalie is either rape or S/M.

Rosalie takes a job at a Grove City roadside hashhouse, where she makes decent tips, and has free room and board. Along somes the owner’s son, Johnny, a tough guy who has his way with all waitresses. He’s waiting in her room and rapes her…and she responds to the rape with pleasure, which confuses the girl.

His knee was working its way between her legs. She could feel the rough fabric of his trousers grinding into the soft skin of her thighs. Her ankles throbbed with pain. She thought they were going to snap.

Suddenly he brought his right hand around and tapped her on the chin. Her lower lip and upper teeth came together. She winced in pain, and tasted blood trickling out of the little cut, and in her surprise and fear she loosened the grip of her ankles, and the next moment she had her legs apart… (p. 13-14)

The same night of the rape, she accepts a date with the local wise guy, Carlton, who likes to use whips on his female partners…she responds to the whips, and likes the pain.

Carlton offers her a place to live with hm and before she leaves the roadhouse, Johnny tries to rape her again but she knees him in the nuts. Johnny vows revenge.

She soon discovers that Carlton is quite the sadist. To get even with an ex-girlfriend who left him for a Hollywood mogul, Calrton forces the ex- to perform lesbian sex on Rosalie.  Carlton also ups the ante with S/M and the toys…

But Rosalie likes living in comfort with money. One day, driving one of Carlton’s sports cars in town, she is jacked by Johnny who forces her to drive out to the country where he rapes her.

And so Carlton seeks out Johnny, and Johnny seeks out Rosalie again for revenge, and things get messy…

Another Manhunt-style story, and not too bad of a read. I’d give it a B-minus for treading similar ground as in Stripper!

The 1973 Reed Nightstand edition was called No Pleasure Too Painful and is apparently hard to find…


Sin Servant by Don Elliott (Robert Silverberg)

Posted in Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Sin Servant

One of the best of the Don Elliotts, IMHO, at least this far as I read them.

Consider the opening of Sin Servant (Nightstand Books #3651, 1962): “I don’t know why it is I like to hurt people. I just do. Especially women.  It’s the kind of guy I am, that’s all, and I don’t try to make excuses for it.”

The novel chronicles Jimmy Robinson’s journey into the world of S/M and rough sex, from age sixteen to his 20s.  He loses his virginity to an experienced girl in high school who laughs at his lack of sexual know-how.  He then meets a 26-year-old divorcee who shows him how some women like to be man-handled and roughed around.

A bit of autobiography comes into play — Jimmy decides to become a writer. maybe all the sex is true too, who knows.  Jimmy sells a couople stories, but then stops when he finds a more lucrative business: becoming live-in a gigalo for various rich older women. (His first is 37, so that is not really “older” even for a 23-year-old.)  One of his sugar mommas likes to hire call girls for threesomes — high class call girls who come from good stock, and lo and behold, in all irony, one night Leatrice, the girl who had shot him down when he was 16, walks in, to find that the teenage boy she rejected has become a master lover.

It’s an insightful commentary on the psychological make-up of the sadist, and how one is trained to become one by women who desire such things, and how this man seeks out women who get off on pain. This one goes into more detail than your usual “soft-core” and is well-written.

Genre writers (science fiction, fantasy, mystery, western) wrote soft-core to make money when the genre market for magazinesand books dwindled in the late 1950s-early 1960s.  Silverberg wrote an article in 1992 for Penthouse Letters entitled “My Life as a Pornographer” about the scene at the time, recounting:

I was 24 years old when I stumbled, much to my surprise, into a career of writing sex  novels. In l958, as a result of a behind-the-scenes convulsion in the magazine-distribution business, the whole SF 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 SF novels […] 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.

Silverberg claims he could write a soft-core for Greenleaf/Nightsand/Cornith/William Hamling or Midwood Books and  others in four days, working in the morning to produce 2-4 chapters, taking a lunch break, and then working till evening, where he would switch to writing sf for the rest of the night.  The erotica was paying for his true love, science-fiction that did not pay as much as the market had vanished. It was also paying his rent and dinners at Love Addictfine restaurants and summer trips to Europe.  Producing 2-3 titles a month, starting with William Hamling paying him $600 for the first Nightsstand tittel, Love Addict, and as the books sold well and made profit,  $1200-2000 each. (Hamling paid Scott Meredith $2000 for each pen name/blinded manuscript, and later found out that Meredith was taking more than a standard 10-15% cut, but more like 40-50%, paying writers $1000-1200.” This was  good money for a writer in the late 1950s-ealy 1960s. Silverberg purchased his first house with this revenue — not just a house, but a 10 room mansion once owned by Mr. La Guardia!  $80,000 back then, translated to a couple million now.  When Silverberg was contracted by Hamling to write a certain amount of stories each month for Imagination Science Fiction at $500/month, that was damn good money for a writer in New York in the mid to late 50s:  most writers could live comfortably on $100-200 month, depending what part of the city they lived and if they had modest or upper crust pedacllos.  Silverberg, with his wife, rented a 4-room upscale apartment in Manhattan for $150 a month.  Imagine that!  But $150 in 1950s money was probbaly around $1000-1500, and a four room apartment in New York City today will run $5000 or more a month, with tiny 200 sq. feet holes in the walls going for $1200 or so a month.  Harlan Ellison, he has n oted, paid $10 a week for a room/apartment.

Imn his essay, Silberbeg claims he made about $1000/week on average, not only from checks from Hamling’s many shell accounts used for the books and magazines, but lesbian novels for Midwood as oren Beauchamop and straight sex as David Challon, non-fiction “sex studies”  for Monarch as L.T. Woodward, and science and archeology books geared for the juvenile market for bigger houses, and the science-fiction too.  He burned out on the sleaze in the mid 1960s, but the SF book market had expanded and he wanted to focus more on that.

Silverberg states that the 150 books he wrote for Hamling, and the others (400 in all) not only helped to hone the  carft of plot and dialougue, but put him in a professional mindset that aided the writing of future books — his doens of novels, stories, and anthologies attest to this.

Much more about all this can be read at Earl Kemp’s online zine, el.

Going back to Sin Servant, it is a well-crafted, well-told story with fairly belivable characters. I can see this as a movie.  Who knows, maybe I will adapt it, as I want to make a screeplay out of Barry Malzberg’s A Bed of Money (next review).

Thorns by Robert Silverberg

Posted in Robert Silverberg with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Thorns

While this blog is mainly about vintage sleaze books with a strong focus on Robert Silverberg’s many pen-names from 1958-1964, and as “notes” toward my monograph-in-progress,  Sin, Sleaze and Silverberg,  I also want to examine his science-fiction written at the same time or shortly thereafter, and compare the works.

Thorns was published in 1968 (Ballantine Books)  and contains some elements found in his sleaze books, namely a suicide and sex.  In a lot of his sex books, someone near the end kills themselves or tries to out of despair and/or rejection, which happens in Thorns. There’s a plenty of sex, hinted or direct,  in this novel, but “grotesque” sex — an astronaut went to an inhabited world and the beings there did surgical experiments on him, creating him into “a monster” that certain human women find oddly sexually appealing.  He is paired up with a 17-year-old girl who is a virgin mother to 100 children — earth scientists took eggs from her ovaries for a genetic experiment, gestating the children in six months; she finds herself wanting her babies, lost in the world of being a celebrity freak as the Virgin Mother. She has tried to kill herself twice.

The two are interstellar “stars,” celebs, and a rich mogul pairs them up for publicity, for a narrative of unlikely love among the famous, and the public is fascinated .  They fall in love.  They are tabloid fodder.  Themogul is also an “emotion vampire” — a psychic succubus — who feeds on their pain and needs it like a drug.  The more their pain is in public view, to more he has access to it.

This novel left me disturbed, and few fiction books do that to me, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps because I am aware of such psychic vampires — I have encountered these types, and I know these people are in the entertianment business as the character in this novel is.  The astronaut’s altered body could be a metaphor, it could be like Michael Jackson’s plastic surgrey that made him in the end look alien, grotesque, and unhuman, yet his fame increased over it.

Thorns was nominated for all the awards and is considered a classic “New Wave SF” book, breaking from old confinements of the genre — there are no heroes in the traditional sense, there is no happy ending.  This is a bleak novel and a commentary on the cult of fame, not unlike the current fascination with Michael Jackson’s death.

The title refers to the thorns on a cactus, and how they penetrate your skin, make you bleed, and cause pain — pain lets these two people know they are alive and still human.

Perhaps it does have a “happy” ending — the lovers unite, freak and lost little girl, and they murder the psychic vampire so he will never hurt anyone — or them — again.

But what was Silverberg warning us in this cautionary SF tale?  The dagers of cult of personality, the dangers of too much power, the dangers of scientific genetic experiments?  This is a dark vision of the future.