Archive for whores

Brutal Passions by S.N. Burton (Bellringer Books, 1964)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Burton - brutal passions

A reader of this blog recommended I check out sleaze pulpist S.N. Burton. I’m glad he did, and I am glad I did.

Wow. Here is another one of those travestities of the slewazecore — a gem of a well-written novel packaged as softcore and forgotten ten minutes after it hit the newsstsands.

Brutal Passions was published by Bellringer Books, an imprint of L.S. Publications, that also published Gaslight Books. The company was very short lived.  I have no idea who “S.N. Burton” may have been and it seems like he (has to be a he) published only 3 books with the company, all in 1964. If he published elsewhere under another name, I don’t know yet, but would love to track him down.

This is  a portrait of an emotionally and spiritually tormented young man, Kirk Wade, age 27, a blue collar construction worker who moves from town to town where the work takes him, living in boarding houses, whooping it up on weekends, sleeping with whatever floozies and bored wives hang around the local watering holes.  He works on a pipe-laying crew for new housing projects, driving a Caterpiller tractor, a but of a specialized job whereas the other guys just dig ditched and put pipes into the ground.

Burton writes like a combination of Cain, Thompson, Hitt and Brewer, getting the voice of the working class schmoe down pat with terse, tough guy prose that is sleek and tight.  Continue reading

Instant Sex by Mel Johnson (Barry Malzberg), Midwood Books

Posted in Barry N. Malzberg, Midbook Books, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

I just realized I have been neglecting Barry Malzberg’s sleaze novels as Mel Johnson, Gerrold Watkins, and himself, which half this blog (along with Robert Silverberg’s pen names) is supposed to focus on (and now I have added in March Hastings, Joan Ellis, and Andrew Shaw).

I have been trying to track down Malzberg’s Mel Johnson Midwoods for years with little success, and if I do find them, they are priced outrageously.  I have no idea why these Midwoods — even the doubles and triples Johnson is in — are scarce and priced so high, when other late 1960s Midwoods are not.

A kind Malzberg fan, Jim Mix, contacted me and said he had a couple extra beat up Johnsons and one Watkins and sent them to me, in the interest to advnace my overdue Mazberg monograph, Beyond Science Fiction (let’s say early 2010 from Borgo Press at this point).

One of them was Instant Sex, that has a nifty Paul Rader cover:

Instant Sex A

Not even Lynn Monroe had this one in his Rader catalog, and he lists it as wanted. When I sent him this scan from Jim, he was surprised he had never seen it — I mean, he’s one of the top authorities and collectors of vintage paperbacks in the country.  Before my telling him, he had no idea Malzberg had written as Mel Johnson, and the Johnsons were not in his catalogues.  This makes the Mel Johnson scarcity more mysterious…the Gerrold Wakins books are hard to find because Olympia only printed 1000-1500 copies and maybe sold half the run.  But Midwood printed in the 25-50,000 unit range…

Does this great cover art depict the storyline inside the pages?  Not really. But when do they ever?

In an email conversation aboutl, Barry Malzberg told me that the novel

was written with real ambition under the working title FIRE.  I was trying, in 9/68, to write the first Vietnam veteran‘s novel, to make a major statement.  I reread it just a few years ago, tried to anyway, thought it was all right.  Better than all right.  I don’t know what was crazier: a) writing a novel of that ambition for Midwood Books’ $900, b) thinking that I had a chance at some “literary” recognition.  Cough cough.  This way to the egress, ladies and germs.

Here is a true or at least represented-as-true story told me by my Midwood editor and good friend Robert Devaney: Malzberg-Barry_thumbthe novel was delivered, Harry Shorten paid for it, Devaney put it on top of the small pile of delivered manuscripts heading for copyediting.  Harry Shorten came into his office.  “I had a dream,” Harry said, “I had a dream last night.  Here is the dream: it is that I published a novel and it was called INSTANT SEX.  I awoke and thought ‘that is a really good idea, I want to call a novel INSTANT SEX.'”  He pointed to the pile of manuscripts.  “Take that one on the top,” he said.  “Call it INSTANT SEX.”

This goes along the lines of other Harry Shorten tales.  In an interview with Gil Fox (Paul Russo, Kimberly Kemp, Dallas Mayo), Gil Fox  says to Muroe:

Harry Shorten had no knowledge of books whatsoever. He had some money from his cartoons, wanted to start a business, used the money to start Midwood. I don’t think Harry ever read a book in his whole life. He did not recognize intelligent writing in books. He would slap a hot cover on anything. For some reason Harry loved me. He would hit me on the back and call me “his most prolific Mayo - When the Lights Are Lowauthor.” How Harry operated: one day we came back from lunch and Harry picks the title WHEN LIGHTS ARE LOW out of the air and says “Your next book for Midwood will be WHEN LIGHTS ARE LOW.” That was it, no meaning at all, no story. So, you know, I went home and wrote WHEN LIGHTS ARE LOW.

In another interview, Joan Ellis says:

One time I walked into Harry’s office and he held up a painting of a blonde eating an ice cream cone and he said, “I now own this cover art. Write me a book to go with it.” So I did. (ed. note: the book is TALK OF THE TOWN, Midwood 32-396).

Would Fire have been a better title than Instant Sex?

Malzberg states he wrote this novel in Sept. 1968, and it’s pub. date is 1968 — Midwood must have had a quick turnaround from accpetance-copy-editing-production.

As for the story…

Instant Sex B

Coleman got into some trouble in Saigon — he was arrested for being with a Vietnamese prostitute and he assaulted a superor officer (tones of “Final War,” Malzberg’s novella written as K.M. O’Donnell).  After some time in the stockade, he returns Stateside despondent and impotent.  The letters from his fiancee were distant, and when he tries to re-connect with her, he knows the marriage is off.

He goes to New York in search of himself, hell, and meaning of his experiences in Vietnam. He wanders into the world of prostitutes, since it was a hooker who ruined his army career.

(I am left wondering if William T. Vollmann [whom I have published two books on, with the recent one out now] read this book, because there are some parts that remind me of Vollmann’s short novel, Whores for Gloria.)

Coleman meets the cliched “whore with a heart of gold” — Cynthia, a skinny girl in Harlem, that he picks up on the street.  He goes limp while they have sex.  She feels bad, like she has not satisfied a custimer, and offers to give him half his money back.

Coleman is an angry Nam Vet.  He goes into a bar and looks for a fight. He wants to go back to jail.  Cynthia has followed him.  When he gets into a brawl and the cops start to take him away, Cynthia comes to his rescue and says she’s his girlfriend and he’s a war hero, blah blah…she takes him back to her apartment and he sleeps in bed with her, and attemepts a half-ass (no pun?) act of anal sex with her.

He wakes up with Cynthia’s pimp, a man named Creature, in his face.  He leaves, although he feels he shouldn’t and Cynthia gives him some looks…he decides to go back, just as Creature is about to stab Cynthia (why do all the charcters have names that start with C?)…Coleman fights Creature and beats Creature up…feeling like the winner, like a man, he takes Cynthia on the floor and, yes, has instant sex. Violence becomes the pure for his impotency.

This book surprised me — it’s a good novel, but the style is different than most Malzberg’s: it’s not in present tense or first person, and Coleman is not as insane as many Malzberg protagonists tend to be.  This also has a “happy” ending.  As a “Vietnam novel,” it does comment on PTSD and what soliders coming back home from an unpopular war have to endure. The sex, as in many Malzbergian fictions, is not “hot” or enticing for the label “one-hand book” but realistic, horrifying, sad, nuerotic.

It’s an early Mazberg, a novel written before he was publishing under his own name, and before his stint at Olympia Press, and was just starting to write as “K.M. O’Donnell” in the science-fiction field.  It reminded me  somewhat of Larry Heinemann’s Paco’s Story.

As for the cover art — that isn’t Coleman and his  skinny teenage Harlen hooker…it could be Coleman pre-Vietnam, with the girl he was to marry…

Some day I will find and read all the Mel Johnsons…next is A Way With All Maidens, from Midwood’s short-lived Oracle Books imprint. Then The Box and The Sadist.  I really want to find Campus Doll and Nynpho Nurse.

Convention Girl by Don Elliott (Robert Silverberg) — Nightstand Books #1547

Posted in Don Elliott, Nightstand Books, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , on July 26, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Elliott - Convention Girl

This one is a little different from the other Silverberg Don Elliotts — more mature, dark, without the sappy romantic endings that he sometimes uses.  Let’s say this books has one heck of a depressing ending, with three dead bodies.

It is NB #1547, the 46th book William Hamling published — Silverberg wrote the first one, Love Addict, that I have already discussed.  This was perhaps at a dozen titles Silverberg had written — plus a John Dexter or Sin Girlstwo, and Sin Girls as Marlene Longman (a pen name later to be used by Marion Zimmer Bradley for The Twisted Ones).

Dan Holestein is in the “small home contracting business.”  He’s worked hard and is successful, has his own company and employees, lives well.  His wife, however, is frigid and cold, so he sometimes turns to other women, like “convention girls” when he goes out of town for conventions.

It seemed fitting to read Convention Girl while at the San Diego Internatinal ComicCon this weekend, since at the “Con” there are always calls girls working the hotels bars.

A convention girl, for 1960, is another form of call girl, hooker, whore.  Young women go to hotel suite parties and entertain. They are called hostesses, and sometimes they hock product, or just stand around looking good.  We’ve all seen them at conventions, film festivals, whatever — I have.  Even at comic book conventions, where hookers have told me they make good money.

In Cincinatti, Holstein meets Judy.  She’s 22, he’s 42.  He falls in love and so does she, so she says.  Here is where the book cover doesn’t get it right — Judy is jet black straught hair and a deep tan, whereas the female on the cover has red hair and pale skin.  Go figure.

So Holstein convinces her to leave Cincinatti and move to New York City, where he will set her up in an apartment and give her money — a mistress/kept woman situation.  She goes for it.  He says he will divorce his wife and marry her.

He goes to her on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  he can never sepnd the night unless he tells his wife he had to go out of town.  Judy is bored — he doesn’t know it at first, but she gets back into the convention girl biz to have something to do at night.  She doesn’t need money, he gives her money.  She needs “kicks.” But he is starting to have doubts, she being 2o years younger, and how he is getting to be an old man…

There is one sex scene that uses dialogue to describe a hand job/finger fuck moment betwenn the two.  It reminded me if the sex-against-a-tree scene in Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, told in dialogue with hints…I am certain that Silverberg was nodding his head to the Hemingway influence:

“There. That’s better, isn’t it?” she asked.

“Lots better.” [he said]

“Stay still. Don’t move.”


“Hold me here.”

“You like that, do you?”

“Very very much,” she said. “That’s right,” she said a moment later. “Slowly. Don’t rush it. Slow. Keep doing it that way.  Yes, Dan. Yes, that’s it. Just like that.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too, Dan.  Here. Hold me.”

“Lift up a little.”



For minute after dizzying minute, Holstein gripped her while she performed incredible acrobaics beneath him…

For oral sex, there’s “kiss me there” or “he kissed her loins gently.”

He knows his wife will  not grant a divorce, or take half his wealth, so he plots to murder her.  But after he kills her, making it look like suicide, he finds out that Judy has been whoring, and he loses his mind and…

Reed Nightstand reprinted the book in 1973 as The Man Collector.  The girl on the cover looks more like Judy is described…

Elliott - Man Collector