That's a hell of a knee you got there, baby. If the rest of you's anything like that knee the sky's the limit.
The Promoter, which appeared in 1957 from Beacon Books, is about the dirty picture racket, which is ironic considering how often author Orrie Hitt skirted obscenity laws. When the lead character Bill Morgan, normally a writer for an auto magazine, is recruited by a minister to investigate the big city under-the-counter porn racket he finds himself at first thwarted, then in over his head. He's also supposed to find the minister's missing daughter. Hmm... wonder where she'll turn up? You really get the feeling Hitt is speaking from experience when he describes how the porn industry worked during the mid-1950s, but the book isn't well written. Hitt churned out a novel every couple of weeks, and the haste shows. The best thing we can say is that the scenario is interesting. We know—we aren't exactly promoting sales of the book, but what can we do? At least the cover art is great. It's by the excellent Walter Popp, and had been previously used in 1953 for Harry Whittington's Wild Oats. Click Popp's keywords below for more visual treats.
The list is long, cowboy, and you're nowhere on it.
There aren't quite enough dude ranch sleaze novels to consider them a distinct subset of mid-century fiction, but we've noticed a few books similar to Lee Thomas's 1963 effort A Woman's Desire. Like E.L Scobie's Man Handled, for example, which we talked about a while ago. A Woman's Desire deals with a group of guests at the Slashed Lightning Ranch, and the revolving affections of Lauri (nice girl), April (man eater), Bob (real cowpoke), and Craig (city slicker). Round and round it goes, and just like in rodeo whoever stays mounted the longest wins. Style points for getting out of the saddle without landing on your face. Charles Copeland cover art.
I wanted you from the first moment I sniffed your butt.
Clyde Merrick's 1961 novel Sex Pack goes in the high school sleaze bin, with fictional Keldon High School's coolest kids putting together an extracurricular club of alpha dogs devoted mainly to getting in girls' panties. The protagonist Troy Cooper is a football star and all around upstanding type who isn't interested, but when his innocent girlfriend Betsy joins not knowing what's in store, he joins too to try to get her out. Or at least that's the plan. This was billed by Beacon as “a book that should be read by every parent,” which was a typical approach, promotionally speaking. But we doubt many people bought it for any reason other than to get their loins heated up. Beacon was usually pretty good about crediting its covers, but not always. Artist unknown in this case.
You know what's ironic? My husband keeps saying he wants longer harder hours out of you.
Above, Al Rossi cover art for Mark West's His Boss' Wife, for Beacon Books, about a traveling sales team peddling magazines from city to city, and the new hire who comes aboard and soon gets in too deep, so to speak, with various women, including his employer's femme fatale spouse. West was a pseudonym, used in this case by Charles Runyon, who also wrote Office Affair and Object of Lust. 1962 copyright.
Watch out—she's a manna eater.
According to Christian literature angels eat manna. According to R. W. Taylor's 1962 sleazer The Man-Eating Angel they just eat men. The book enjoyed both a U.S. and Australian release—though as She Devil up north. We find it interesting that the same character—Beulah Bell—was a devil in the U.S. and an angel, albeit a bad one, in Australia. In the book the character of Beulah Bell is married, but has the time and inclination to meet the carnal needs of a fella named John, and grants the sexual wishes of other men too. She just gets around in general. She even got around to the 1980s, where she inspired Hall & Oates to write the song “Manna Eater.” Well, maybe not. But she definitely inspired a pretty nice piece of cover art, which is uncredited. We're tempted to say it's Robert Bonfils, but we aren't aware of him ever working for Beacon-Signal, so we'll keep this in the mystery bin for now, and hope an angel or devil—or maybe even a crazy Aussie—provides an answer.
You're hired. I guess we better have you fill out an application now.
Herb Roberts, aka Robert Carney, takes a stab at the always fertile office sleaze genre with 1963's Love-Hungry Women, for which you see the cover above. It isn't so much the women who are love hungry here. It's more a story of rabid male ambition. The protagonist Steve is a small-time hustler getting his last shot at a good job at Garland Real Estate. He's vowed to play it straight, but wouldn't you just know it—the boss's wife takes a shine to him and isn't about to take no for an answer. She says she can help him get to the top, and pretty soon he's not only in deep with her, but with other women around the office. With so many plates in the air it isn't a question of whether he'll drop them but when. The book purports to be an inside look at the business world à la Mad Men, but it's really just lightweight titillation with no aspects worth serious consideration. We love this cover though. It fits right into the office nookie collection we put together several years ago. Too bad the art is uncredited.
You liar! Your website promised high speed internet!
You ever stay in a place and the internet sucks? It happens to us all the time. The amenities are also sorely lacking at Guido d’Arpino's San Francisco rooming house, but at least his daughter Emma is sexually available to most of the guests that roll through, including touring saxophonist Harry Purcell. Their involvement produces an unexpected customer bonus: pregnancy! The impending arrival of the little d’Arpino sets into a motion a series of events that leads to murder. Since the story is told in flashback at Harry's trial, none of this is a surprise, but the details of how he ended up in the dock are interesting, and in the end the lesson of this Prohibition era tale is clear—never get involved with a musician. And we say that as musicians. We're the worst. Pretty good book, though. In the same way San Fran exteriors are used in some of the best mid-century noir movies, author Fred Malloy (a pseudonym too involved to work out on a perfect beach day, sorry), uses San Fran specificity to spice this one up. For people interested in the city, that alone probably is worth the price of the book. 1954 copyright on this edition, and cover art by Saul Levine.
Just let me out! I know a little about cars and I don't think that's what four-on-the-floor really is.
Four-on-the-floor. Too easy, right? Well, we could have gone with dipstick or blowing a tranny, but those are even easier. 1959's Night of Shame deals with anonymous partners in a one night stand whose lives are complicated by their constant desire for each other. Later, they meet again by chance and rekindle their affair, only to discover, as Mr. Spock once so eloquently put it, that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. The beautiful cover on this is unattributed, but it could be Rudy Nappi. We reached that conclusion because it was definitely painted by the same artist who did this cover, which is identified as Nappi's work in Gary Lovisi's Dames, Dolls and Delinquents: A Collector's Guide to Sexy Pulp Fiction. Problem is, we don't actually think that cover is Nappi either. We think it's Howell Dodd. This wouldn't be the first time we've doubted Lovisi, but what do we know? We didn't write a whole book on the subject. So, okay, call this one Nappi.*
Ouch, that one's getting a little sore. Can you can switch to the right one?
Above, a cover for Prime Sucker, 1954, written by Harry Whittington for Beacon-Signal, with art showing a man enjoying the milk of human kindness. Well, not really, but it kind of looks that way, right? In this one a man lusts for his employee's wife, which is normally not a problem for the employee, as his wife has more or less free rein. But this time the wife falls for her fling. Meanwhile the boss has a wife too, and while she's normally reserved, she's got a hidden wild streak, if only someone can bring it out. Put this one in the suburban wife-swapping bin. The cover work is by Harry Barton, and interestingly, the throat (or boob) sucking you see above was not a one-off. See here.
When the dean's away the wife will play.
Above, another entry in the school sleaze genre, The Dean's Wife, by Lee Thomas for Beacon Books. Thomas was a pseudonym used by author Lee Floren, who also wrote as Matt Harding, Will Watson, and possibly other entities. He didn't just write sleaze—he authored numerous westerns, and generally wrote those under his own name. The Dean's Wife is copyright 1963, and the art is by Charles Copeland.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1930—Amy Johnson Flies from England to Australia
English aviatrix Amy Johnson lands in Darwin, Northern Territory, becoming the first woman to fly from England to Australia. She had departed from Croydon on May 5 and flown 11,000 miles to complete the feat. Her storied career ends in January 1941 when, while flying a secret mission for Britain, she either bails out into the Thames estuary and drowns, or is mistakenly shot down by British fighter planes. The facts of her death remain clouded today.
1934—Bonnie and Clyde Are Shot To Death
Outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, who traveled the central United States during the Great Depression robbing banks, stores and gas stations, are ambushed and shot to death in Louisiana by a posse of six law officers. Officially, the autopsy report lists seventeen separate entrance wounds on Barrow and twenty-six on Parker, including several head shots on each. So numerous are the bullet holes that an undertaker claims to have difficulty embalming the bodies because they won't hold the embalming fluid.
1942—Ted Williams Enlists
Baseball player Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox enlists in the United States Marine Corps, where he undergoes flight training and eventually serves as a flight instructor in Pensacola, Florida. The years he lost to World War II (and later another year to the Korean War) considerably diminished his career baseball statistics, but even so, he is indisputably one of greatest players in the history of the sport.
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