Robert Silverberg published two novels called Sin on Wheels — first for Nightstand as Don Elliott, about lusty driving instructors and teen girls, and for Midwood as Beauchamp, about swingers in a trailer park.
I coveted this Midwood for a long time — it was difficult to find a copy for a reasonable price; some dealers wanted $100-200 for it, and I seldom pay more than $50 for a vintage book. I wanted it for (1) the great Paul Rader cover; (2) for my Silberberg sleaze monograph; and (3) to complete my Loren Beauchamp collection.
Lynn Munroe was kind enough to find a beat up reading copy for me, and a day later I found a near-fine condition copy priced a little more than $50. So, I had one for the collection, that I would not take out of its bag, and one to read.
The cover is classic Rader, classic Midwood, classic sleaze era — the image has enetered the pop culture meme and has been used for posters, notebooks, T-shirts, mugs, chains, and boxes. Several bands have pilfered the image for their CDs.
Would the book live up to its pop hype? I prepared myself, read it on my birthday (July 12) as a treat…and was disappointed.
Sin on Wheels fell short as both a Loren Beauchamp/Silverberg novel, and a sleaze title. Maybe I was hoping for too much. But it was not as engaging as Connie, Meg, Nurse Carolyn or Another Night, Another Love — more along the lines of The Fires Within: an average novel, not bad, but not a page-turner.
Lenore is 19 and just married Jack, a husky he-man she met five weeks ago, who works as an engineer of some sort on missiles at the army base. He’s also a womanizer and swinger, but she doesn’t know this yet. She goes to live with him in his trailer in a trailer park in a rural zone not far outside New York City. There, in the park, all the men eye her as new meat to feast on: she is young, gorgeous, naive and untainted.
The parties there are drunk fests with alot of groping and wife swapping. Her husband leaves for an hour with another woman; he later denies it. Then he takes her to a strip poker party where after everyone is naked and drunk, they dance and slowly pair off with each other’s wives or husbands. She goes to bed with another man but stops it mid-coitus, running away.
She has just lost her virginity on her wedding night a week ago, and here she is at a swinger party. This is not her. But to get even with her husband Jack (“turnabout is fair play” is the phrase often used) she sleeps with a much older married man, whose wife her husband has a constant “thing” with, and then has an encounter with a lesbian in the park…
All of Beauchamp/Silverberg’s lesbian encounters seem to be the same: they happen when the heroine is confused, drunk, hurt…the lesbians take advantage of this, mutter how men are bad and don’t know women the way another woman does…and after, the heroines feel shame…the lesbian here is a writer of children’s books, just like the chldren’s book writer lesbian in The Fires Within, but Lenore does not harbor as much guilt as the other Beauchamp heroines do. In fact, Lenore admits she liked it, and while the lesbian tries to convince her all men are evil and to leave with her on a country-wide trailer jaunt, she does not want to be a dyke.
One of the drunk residents pays her a visit, wanting to know why she won’t do him; he’s just lost his job and wants some love. He tries to rape her. Jack shows up and stops the attack and beats the living crap out of the rapist.
Lenore wants to leave Jack and the park…she knows her husband will never change…he pleads with her, says he will reform and never look at another woman, that they will move out of the park, he’ll put in a transfer for White Sands…Lenore knows he will cheat eventaly, and she might too, but decides to give marriage another whirl.
Again, an okay story that does not live up to its great cover: “the uncensored confessons of a trailer camp tramp” (which was removed in the second printing). Lenore is not a tramp, and this is not a first person confessional, like Beauchamp’s And When She Was Bad, or even like Andrew Shaw’s Trailer Trollop, both of which I will read and discuss next.
Note: this has also been reprinted as Orgy on Wheels by Don Elliott (Companion Books, 1967).