Archive for prostitution

Too Hot to Handle by Orrie Hitt (Beacon, 1959)

Posted in Beacon Books, noir fiction, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on September 12, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This may be one of Hitt’s darkest novels. The keyhole peeper cover suggests this might be a peeping tom book but it’s not. Too Hot to Handle focuses on one of Hitt’s pet themes: young women in the 1950s who, out of bad circumstance, need, and blackmail, wind up as call girls, street hookers, or nude models.

Kay comes from the wrong side of town, Orchard Street, the red light district of sin and booze and crime. At fourteen, she is seduced by a friend of her father’s named Lucky. After teaching her all about sex, he tries to enlist her as a call girl for his operation. She had no idea he was a two-but pimp. She refuses.

At nineteen, she gets a job in a law office and winds up marrying the boss’ son, Burt, much to the boss’ chagrin — Kay is from Orchard Street, she’s not Ivy League class as he had hoped for his son, who just finished law school.

Burt tries opening his own office and they are poor, struggling, unable to meet rent on their West End Avenue apartment. To make matters worse, Kay’;s mother gets stomach cancer and the hospital wants to be paid or else no care and surgery (perhaps a political statement on Hitt’s part about the lack of universal health care).

Kay meets a married woman named Iris who seems to have a lot of money; she tells Kay she secretly works as a call girl for this “rich” old woman, Mrs. Gordon, who only deals with high-end executive businessmen who pay top dollar for the best girls — $100 an hour, when most hookers can only get $10-15 (and 100 is like $1500 in 1959 money).

Kay is facing too mnay bills — rent, groceries, her mother…so she does it, and finds she likes it after a few drinks until later when the guilt sets in. The men give her high marks — she’s so on sexual fire that she’s, yes, too hot to handle; when she tries to quit, Mrs. Gordon threatens to tell Burt what Kay is doing, so Kay is blackmailed into staying a call girl, although she does like the money. She also has a lesbian fling with Iris, after a bad drunk night when she has sex with five businessmen and passes out and they leave her alone in the room, and she didn’t get paid.

She felt the pain and she knew that he was taking her. She moaned, crying for herself and what she was, and she felt his lips on her mouth, lips that were filled with the wildness of passion, lips that became more furious…

She remembered little after that, except that men came to her, and went away.

“Wonderful,” she heard one of them say.

She didn’t know who said it and she didn’t care. She was earning money, earning it the way some girls did on Orchard Street, and that’s all she knew. (pp. 86-87)

Iris dies in a botched abortion (a common occurrence in Hitt’s and other sleaze books) and Kay has to hire a young girl, Debbie, to take care of her mom, only Debbie seduces Kay’s drunk father and blackmails Kay – the dad either goes to jail for rape or pays $2500 to settle.

The atmosphere of this novel is bleak and depressing, more than the other books Hitt did with this theme. Kay is faced with no-way-out situations.

When she wasn’t working or with Iris she would drink alone and it was then that a wave of disgust and self-pity needled her. She was married to a man that didn’t give a damn  about her. She was a call girl. And, if that wasn’t enough, she was a lesbian. (p. 100)

This is true “sleaze” because none of the sex is exactly sensual but acts of drunken desperation and sad loneliness. Sex becomes nothing more than a business transaction for Kay, and soon she’s working sidelines at bars, having men every hour, her husband finds out and leaves her, and Kay keeps drinking more and more until she’s a complete lush and gets arrested by the vice cops…

After reading a slew of Hitt duds (to be expected from any prolific writer) this one was a vibrant read and enforces our contention that Orrie Hitt is a long lost pulp master who needs to be revived…and soon will be from Stark House which will issue an omnibus edition next year (with an introduction from Michael Hemmingson).

Morals Charge by Paul Hunter (Midwood F101, 1961)

Posted in Midwood Books, Paul Rader, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on August 10, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This one sports one of my favorite Paul Rader covers.  It’s unknown who “Paul Hunter” is/was, a one-shot pen name never used again by Midwood.  It’s well-written.

Like Jodie in The Disciplined Daughter below, Nancy in Morals Charge is a constant victim of circumstance and her own sexual appeal.  The 18-year-old girl lives at home, a horrible home where her alcoholic, lazy mother steals the money she makes at a clerk job, even though she gives her mother half her pay; she’s been saving so she can leave home, maybe go to Hollywood or somewhere.  And then there is her equally alcoholic, fat mother’s boyfriend Frank, who is convinced Nancy is a floozy on the side, the way she dreses sometimes.

One day Nancy crosses paths with an old high school friend, Candy, who has nice clothes and seems to be doing well in New York.  Candy invites Nancy to a party her “boss” is throwing, and tells Nancy to dress sexy. Nancy meets the boss, Howie Mann, who runs illegal gambling parlors out of ritzy hotels — he’s a big powerful man connected to the mob and local politicians, and has girls on his crew…not exactly hookers, they are there as “shills” (playing tables with house money to lure men)…a girl in Howie’s crew can leave with a customer and make extra money, and it’s expected, Howie wants them to come back and blow their money.  Sometimes Howie requires his girls to sleep with VIPs…

Howie seduces Nancy that night and takes her virginity. She thinks there could be a romance but  he was testng her out, breaking her in.  He also gives her $50. She gets home late and her mother and Frank yell at her. They find the $50 and figure she’s hooking, and Frank decides he will pimp her out. Frank knocks out the mother and rapes Nancy, just two hours from her having lost her cherry to Howie.

Nancy leaves home and moves in with Candy and works for Howie. At first she doesn’t like having to be nice and fuck ugly old men with money, and Howie lays down the law. He has a sadistic woman who runs the girls, Jane, and an equally sadistic goon named “Fingers” who knows torture techniques by just using his fingers.  Nancy has a choice of the lesser two evils, at home being raped and pimped by Frank who takes her money, or in the city where she’s pimped out but makes money. She soon falls into the groove of being used for her body, but at least she’s making good money.

Frank tracks her down one day and breaks into her apartment and demands $1000, and that he will be her new pimp.  She gets Howie and his goons to work Frank over. Sweet revenge on the drunk fat fuck.

One night she gets arrested in a hotel with one of Howie’s VIPs. Since she’s not being paid, it’s not an actual “morals charge” for hooking, but the cops frame her with a bogus $50 payment.  Three of the four cops want to gang rape her but the third cop, a straight arrow, intervenes.  This cop also tells her she’s just a pawn to get at someone bigger. Here the cops make her a victim by depriving her of her rights for a phone call and lawyer, by physically  beating her up in interrogation.  But Nancy knows they want Howie so she doesn’t talk. Later, a lawyer tells her that the D.A. is after one of Howie’s friends in political office, and if she keeps mum all is well although she will have to take the fall and do some time to appease the D.A. who is pissed her arrest was botched.

An interesting novel that, while trash pulp fiction, does reflect a time in America where the rights of women, even though prostitutes, were trampled on without repercussion, and where physical force was par for the course during third degree questioning (although some will claim that still goes on, just look at Abu Gahrib).  Poor Nancy is just abused everywhere she goes — at home, at work, by the system. In jail and prison, she meets street hookers as young as nine, heroin addicts, thieves and lesbians.

A good read, and good  to own for the cover alone. In the next week or two, we want to to focus on vintage books with Issac Paul Rader covers…

The Many Faces of John Dexter #9: Stripper! by Robert Silverberg (Nightstand #1530, 1960)

Posted in crime noir, John Dexter, Nightstand Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Strippers and hookers, call girls and club dancers were always good fodder for softcore novels back in the day (and still are, with more hardcore tossed in).  This is one of the few Nightstand/Corniths that is a single word high concept title without SIN, LUST, or SHAME.

Stripper! is told in the female first-person voice (making one wonder why this wasn’t penned by Marlene Longman, that Silverberg used for Sin Girls): Diana DeLisle, 22, is a dancer/singer at The Pelican Club who has moved from chorus line to solo act, meaning she has to strip completely naked and sing a song.  There’s a live band. This Philadelphia strip show is actually a show, where a dancer had to do more than just gyrate on a pole as they do these days.  This is a “class act” with both men and women watching, where the woman wear elegant gowns and are only seen fully nude the last ten seconds, as a big tease.

Diana loves her work: “It excites me to take my clothes off in front of an audience. It gets me all hot. That’s why it’s so easy for me to do it I like it” (p. 9).  She’s an exhibitionist.  In my own encounters with strippers — I’ve been known to date and live with a few in other younger years — some women get into it beyond the need for money: they just like to dance, or they get off on strangers looking at their naked bodies.

One ex-girlfriend dancer told me: “I’m like a marriage therapist. I keep married people together — when these married men watch me, they get hot and horny and they go back home and fuck their wives crazy, imagining they’re fucking me. The wife’s happy, the husband’s happy, I’m happy — the world is happy.”

Another told me:  “The men are like flies and I am the spider, they’re in my web and I draw them in, and I suck their energy away.”  (For more on interviews with strippers, see my ethnographic study, Zona Norte.)

Many strippers in te U.S. will say they are not also prostitutes. Not that case wth Diana. From day one she knows she has to sleepwith the club manager, Mack, whenever he wants her; othertimes she may go home with a customer if the price is right.

In comes Johnny Lukas, big time crime and Vegas roller, who owns the seven Pelican Clubs across the nation and has his hands in a lot of illicit business, from money aundering to abortion clinics to white slavery.  He takes a liking to Diana she at the behest of Mack, she sleeps with him.  Johnny son wants to set her up as a main mistress in New York.  Mack has been vying for this, because he is plotting to murder his boss, Mr. Lukas, with the help of Diana.

Diana is to get Lukas away from his bodyguards and somewhere remote, phone Mack, and Mack will kill him…the police will think nothing because he is a mob guy with enemies, and the IRS and FBI have been investgigating him (Lukas admits to Diana he was happier as a Vegas gamber living day to day, that having money and power is more a burden than asset).

Diana has no choice…Mack will have her tortured if she doesn´t agree, and if she rats Mack out to Lukas, Lukas will have her killed for being a rat because one day she may turn on him, and she will know that Lukas had Mack killed for his scheme.  She is stuck in a Catch-22 here.

This is a good crime-sex novel, something that could have been a condensed Manhunt novella at the time, but the female narrative does not ring true, we can tell this is a man writing as a woman…but that does not really matter. Again, Silverberg told a compelling page-turning yarn in 1960.

The 1973 Reed Nightstand version is called One Bed Too Many, with an appropriate cover, and “by” Jeremy Dunn, which was the later name for John Dexter…

The Many Faces of John Dexter #8: Sin Psycho by Harry Whittington (Sundown Reader #512, 1964)

Posted in crime noir, Harry Whittington, John Dexter, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on July 7, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Of the few “Missing 38” I’ve read so far, Sin Psycho is the best, next to Sharing Sharon. The title is misleading, surprise there — the protagonist isn’t psycho, she’s desperate to save her family from the pit of poverty.

Ginny is a beautiful housewife who lives in the suburbs of Boston. She has two kids and a husband, Bob.  Bob, however, has been laid up sick in bed for months by an unknown illness, keeping him from his manager job at a bank.  They’re running out of money, and the bank that owns their mortgage is close to foreclosing, and the milkman can’t keep extending her credit even though her kids need to eat.  The elctricty will be turned off soon and although Bob is bed-ridden, he’s always horny…she’s cold, but when he touches her, she changes, she turns into a fiery sex-crazed naughty housewife…

But they need money and none of the jobs she’s offered will help pay enough…

Then her friend Aggie, who seems to always do well, lets her in on a secret, to help Ginny: Aggie really works for a beauty salon in Boston, but the salon is a front for a call girl service where a number of desperate housewives work out of…

And Ginny is desperate. And she does like sex. And men do find her attractive…

She’s nervous with her first client, but he’s grateful to have her because she seems to actually like the sex and have real orgasms…

Eventually she gets into the swing of things, and not only does she like the sex, and the adventure of being with strange men once or twice a day in their hotel rooms or homes, she likes the money… because she now can pay the bills, keep the bankers happy, feed and clothe her children, and have some left over to spend on herself.

She tells Bob she works at some office. When Bob gets well and goes back to work, he wants her to quit…stay home again…but she finds it hard to quit. She has become addicted to the life: the sex and money and excitement of strangeness…

One client, a rich old man, likes to pretend she is Martha, his dead wife…

Some like rough sex, and some like torture…when she gets a man who beats the hell out of her, she knows she’s gone too far, with a broken niose and swollen eye and bleeding…

And then she gets arrested by the vice cops (the cop had been one of her customers) and all goes to hell, exposed…

An interesting little story.  Whittington delves into Ginny’s psyche well, and tells of her sexual “affair” with a twenty-five year old Navy guy who rented a room from her parents, and she was ten years old. Whittington handles the pedophilia smoothly, we’re never quite sure if she had sex with the guy but we assume so, and Ginny never feels it was wrong.  All her life she has been trying to find a man just like that first lover…

Highly recommended, if you can find a copy — the Whittington Corniths are rare.

Wayward Girl – Orrie Hitt (Beacon #288, 1960)

Posted in Beacon Books, lesbian pulp fiction, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This one is far better than Orrie Hitt’s other juvie novel, The Torrid Teens — both published in 1960 although Wayward Girl was a month or two before Torrid Teens, as tis is Beacon #288 and Teens #294 (we’re talking a month difference here).

The wayward girl is  young Sandy Greening and he white trash nowhere life — she was raped by a neighbor at 14 but liked it, started running with a gang and prostituting at 15, got hooked on heroin (but not too badly) at 16.

Her father is in prison for trying to hold up a gas station and her mother is a lush who runs around with criminals and bad boys.  She in turn runs around with a street gang, is not quite a “deb” but makes herself available for the use of the club house, where she sometimes brings her johns.

She works part time in a deli, where she meets out of town men or dock workers who pay her $5-10, sometimes $20, for a lay.  She believes in giving men what they pay for and sometimes enjoys it.  She wants to work her way up to a high class $100/night call girl and lead a nicer life.

One night an older man offers her $25 and she goes to his hotel room but it’s a police sting and she’s arrested.  She was witness to a murder in a rumble the night before (a rival gang gang-raped one of their debs) but she plays dumb.

She is sent to a special reform school for first offenders, much better she is told than most reform institutes for young women, and far better than prison.  There, she goes cold turkey off the heroin and it’s a hellish two weeks before she kicks it.

Some of the other girls are pregnant, in for drugs or hooking, and half seem to be lesbians or dabbling in the third sex for lack of men.  She vows never to go that route but she is blackmailed into lesbiana by one of the house-mothers, who holds her future well-being in lock.  Still, Sandy finds she enjoys the forced kisisngs and lickings of another woman — “Sandy had never dreamed of the completeness of this kind of love” (p. 92).

She is given a weekend pass to stay with a family in town, only to find that the man of the house — a fat slob of a guy — expects sex from her, or else he will tell the house-mother to give her a bad report and have her sent to regular jail.  He is paying the house-mother $25 for every girl she sends for him to have sex with.  Sandy sees it ironic that she was convicted for prostitution only to be pimped out by the state employees who are supposed to be “reforming” her as a good citizen of society.

The slob’s son, 19, however, falls in love with Sandy and wants to marry her, but she can’t see how he can feel that way for a girl like her, especially if he ever found out she was sleeping with his father.

When Sandy is released, she goes back to work at the diner where men are expecting her to return to doing $5-10 tricks, and where her gang mates expect her to return to the Life of rumbling and shooting heroin.

Sometimes at tad preachy and moral, this is still an excellent read, even with the sappy happy ending.  Hitt seems to be writing a book made-to-order for Beacon, as the storyline is similar to others, but here he does an excellent job.

On the Hitt Scale, a 9.2.

Leased – Jack Woodford & Orrie Hitt (Signature Press, 1954)

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on April 21, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Leased is one of the many “co-authored” books that Jack Woodford did with up-and-coming adult fiction writers in the 1950s.  We see the same today — the co-written works with Tom Clancey, Larry Niven, Andre Norton, etc. — a commercially viable writer who is getting old and cannot produce like they once could will generate outlines, or have existing book ideas done by younger, hungrier writers.

I am guessing that Signature Books was most likely a precursor of The Woodford Press, where Woodford did the same.  The back cover of Leased lists nothing but Woodford and co-authors on many books:

We noted before that the books from Key that Hitt seemed to co-wrote as Charles Verne and Roger Normandie had Woodford’s silent stamp all over them.

In 1954, Hitt only had two books published the year before, I’ll Call Every Monday and Love in the Arctic, in hardback from Red Lantern Books.  In ’54, Monday was reprinted by Avon, and Beacon issued two paperback originals: She Got What She Wanted and Shabby Street.

What’s curious is that the reprint edition of Leased, published as Trapped (Beacon, 1958), only has Hitt’s byline.  Perhaps because Hitt seems to have written most if not all the book, using an idea of Woodford’s, and the Beacon edition has extra text, which has five more opening pages than the hardcover edition.  Chapters throughout have more material, so either Hitt added it in to get the paperback to a commercial 60,000 word length, or the Signature edition had edited down Hitt’s original typescript.

Leased/Trapped is narrated by a big red-headed man named Brick Hayden, who co-runs a farm with his alcoholic partner, Roy.  The two don’t seem to get along well, or see eye-to-eye on business matters, and Brick has been sleeping with the gal Roy plans to marry, a gal Brick has known for along time, and she admits she wished he had taken her virginity when she was ten and had a crush on him, when he was 14.

The novel opens with Brick negotiating with a guy who runs a “camera club” to lease out part of the farm for three months so young women can model for amateur photographers.  Brick is hesitant, but he needs the money, and one of the lead models, a gorgeous woman named Gloria, entices his decision with her looks:

She had long, black hair that wasn’t too curly and that hung down across the deep tan of her shoulders  She had a high forehead and very dark narrow eyebrows.  Below those were a couple of smoky, laughing eyes that looked out at me across a small, roundly pointed nose. Her lips were full and sensuous, half-parted, and I could see her white teeth and just a trace of her red tongue […] I felt the hair stand up on the back to my legs and the end of my toes became numb and dead. (p. 7)

Brick soon regrets his decision when he realizes that this “camera club” is a ruse for prostitution, that the men are brought in to eye the girls and pick, and pay for, sex.  This is a common Hitt theme in later books, such as Campus Tramp and Three Strange Women, as well as the whole racket of nude photos, found in The Promoter, I ‘ll Cal Every Monday, Hotel Woman, Naked Model, Sin Doll, As Bad as They Come, Affairs of a Beauty Queen, and countless others, including Hitt’s last published novel, Nude Model (1970).

A semi-violent love affair happens between Brick and Gloria.  He demands she get out of the hooker business and away from the nude photos but she seems to like the seediness of it.  But as we know from many Hitt books, when the hero falls for a sexy woman beyond his means, he’s usually being played.

Leased isn’t up to par with Hitt’s other 1954 titles, like the excellent Shabby Street, but for its connection to the legendary Woodford, and the beginning of one of his obsessive pet themes, it’s an interesting read; on the Hitt Scale, however, it gets a 7 for dragging along.

Passion Alley by Andrew Shaw (Lawrence Block), Nightstand Book #1611, 1962

Posted in Andrew Shaw, Lawrence Block, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Block was (and perhaps still is) at his best when writing in the first-person, whether his narrators are criminals, lost young men, con artists, burglars, hit men or private eyes.

Such is the case with Passion Alley, the story of Jack Edwards’ downward spiral after being kicked out of college (it’s also interesting to read a “sex” book from 1962, after Block started to come into his own, publishing under his own name at Gold Medal, like with Mona and others).

Jack is a little older than your usual undergrad, 23, having served in Korea and hitching onto the G.I. Bill.  Block adds an interesting aside about how the college campuses of the U.S. changed after Korea, when all these battle-hard young men began to mix in with the soft rich kids and intellectuals who were worlds apart from the battlefield.  Jack is also in an upper-crust fraternity, only because he’s a good football player, and the football team is important to the college.  A teammate gets killed one game, and Jack punches out the other player at a frat dance party, which causes a scandal and gets Jack the boot.

Before leaving for New York, Jack talks his girl into giving him her virginity, promising to marry her, and leaving her in the morning a ruined girl, his final act of defiance against the conservative social and political environment that has always treated him like a slug, a guy without a rich family, a grunt on the G.I. Bill.

He heads to New York because he has a notion–like a number of Block’s male characters, such as in Shame Dame–of becoming a writer.  New York is the place to go, right?

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