*sigh* Okay, lesson learned—new sexual orientation, same old crushing regret.
Above is a piece of classic Midwood sleaze, The Drifter, by March Hastings, aka Sally Singer, 1962, with Paul Rader cover art and the staggeringly funny tagline: Any port in a storm—and one of the ports was Lesbos. In the story, a woman has an impotent but deviant husband who seems to be sexually inspired only by his sister, so wifey flees and the drifting begins. As does the slumming, self-hating, and everything else. Since lesbianism is universally understood in mid-century sleaze to be a mental disorder, it's no spoiler to reveal that our heroine doesn't stay docked in Lesbos permanently, but rather learns the usual dubious lesson imparted by these books: the love of a good man fixes everything. It's a sex conversion fantasy written for a male market, and not to be taken seriously in any way. As a side note, since Lesbos is a Greek isle, that means we have a bit of a theme today (see below).
If you're looking for a street walker keep looking. If you're looking for the street walker you've found her.
Above is the cover of Jason Hytes' 1964 sleaze novel The Street Walker, with beautiful unattributed art in tones of red and violet. In the story, a judge becomes infatuated with a prostitute he encounters when she is a defendant in his courtroom. The judge's wife becomes infatuated with a cop, and the middle-aged cop becomes infatuated with the wife and judge's eighteen-year-old daughter. That's a lot of infatuation and it all gets messy pretty quickly, as the judge beds the prostitute and other women who pass through his court, the cop beds the judge's wife, and later the judge's virgin daughter, a trio of workers bed the judge's wife together, and round and round it goes, leading to a climax, so to speak, that sends the judge to a mental institution, the wife someplace unknown, and the judge's daughter and the cop together down the marriage aisle. There isn't much street walking in this one but there sure is a lot of sex, and the writing isn't bad, considering the genre. Are we recommending it? Well, heh heh, not quite. Just saying, we've spent our time worse ways.
I had new shocks installed, so theoretically nobody outside should be able to tell we're in there humping like beasts.
In Sin on Wheels a virgin moves into a trailer park with her new husband and discovers he and most of the other residents are swingers. He's cheating on her within a week, she's cheating back days later, and pretty soon everyone wants a piece of her wedding cake. Of course, it was always the husband's plan to share his bride, which means the friction, so to speak, derives from her attempts to resist being turned into a trailer park plaything. It's all written from her point of view, so it's basically a male fantasy of a woman's descent into the sexual gutter. This is credited to Loren Beauchamp but it was written by Robert Silverberg. If you're thinking this is somehow a diamond in the rough we'll tell you bluntly it's not distinguishable from most other light sleaze. It's fun and quick, though, with lots of heavy drinking, strip poker, and round robin intercourse. It's 1962 copyright, with Paul Rader cover art of one of his best temptresses, an aspect that contributes to the book's collectibility.
I hate to sound impatient, but I've already been here like forty minutes.
There's nothing quite like cuddling up with a good piece of sleaze fiction, especially when it comes from Midwood-Tower. Alan Marshall's Sex on Arrival, which you see above with Paul Rader cover art, deals with virile young John Steward helping out summers at his parents' hotel and handling the needs of assorted horny guests. We're from Denver originally, so it wasn't hard to recognize where the story's Rocky Mountain Lodge and Cabins is located—though Marshall calls the town Skyline City. But there's this description:
“It is at this point—still on the Great Plains, but with the towering mountains so close that it seems as if a man could reach out and touch them—that Skyline City occurs. The city itself has had many incarnations. At first it was no more than a stagecoach stop, a fort and a trading post. Then, with the advent of cattle ranching on the plains and the discovery of gold in the Rockies, it grew and prospered. It became a center of trade and finance—the capital of an enormous Western empire."
These days Denver is the capital of an enormous collection of immigrants from other states. More than three-hundred thousand came from California, mainly fleeing the west coast's culture, taxes and—ironically—its immigration. Such people would not recognize the city described in Sex on Arrival, but indeed, Denver was once a live-and-let-live paradise where the foolishness described by the author wouldn't have raised an eyebrow. And we're talking about during the eighties when we were young. We can't even imagine what the city was like in 1968.
Thus the book, though set before our time, is a bit of a nostalgia trip for us. On the whole it's a love story—with numerous sexual detours of semi-explicit variety. Semi explicit as in: “Then she wriggled around and her lips were on him. And the sensation radiated outward from his groin in stronger and stronger waves. It was almost more than he could bear. Almost more than any man could bear.” It's racy but not pornographic, and the interludes are short and widely spaced, as actual plot rears its ugly head.
Midwood sleaze titles were generally written under pseudonyms, and this particular author was probably Donald E. Westlake, who admitted producing close to thirty books as Marshall and Alan Marsh. But other authors used the Marshall name too. It isn't possible to know whether this is Westlake—at least not for us—by looking for hints of his style. Whoever wrote this worked fast, and the haste shows. But if you can pick it up cheap—and we mean real cheap—it's worth a read.
Well, you know. I'm reluctant to stop, maybe.
Above, just another brilliant effort from illustrator Paul Rader, this time for The Reluctant Nympho by Joan Ellis, 1968.
Oh my freaking gaawd. Do you exfoliate or take milk baths or something? Your skin is so uhmazing...
If hands could have erections this is what it would look like, because to us the guy on the front of Paul V. Russo's This Yielding Flesh seems about to lose it in a messy way. But the book is not actually about a guy with overly sensitive hands—it deals with a woman who runs into some shady characters at a music festival, and who then attracts a protector determined to save her from the evil counterculture and its rampant sexual deviancy. Drugs, lesbians, and hippies—but no hand orgasms—all under the umbrella of light sleaze. Paul V. Russo was a pseudonym used by Gilbert Fox, and this effort dates from 1961, with art from Paul Rader, who outdid himself.
I'm going to devour you like a rotisserie chicken and pick my teeth with your bones. I hope you don't find that too terribly forward.
Here's another mid-century novel for the ever growing lesbian corruptor bin, When Lights Are Low, by sleaze maestro Dallas Mayo, 1963, for Midwood-Tower. Mayo was a pseudonym inhabited by Gilbert Fox, who apparently wrote this when Midwood honcho Harry Shorten conjured the title out of thin air at lunch and told Fox to produce a book to go with it. You can read that tale at paulrader.com. Fox was super prolific, writing many books as Mayo, as well as under the names Kimberly Kemp and Paul V. Russo. The cover art is yet another brilliant effort from Paul Rader. It's inspired us to go have a snack of our own.
Maybe it fell behind the cabinet. If you get on your knees and look back there I bet you can see it.
This cover for Rock Anthony's 1963 novel Fringe Benefits was painted by Paul Rader and ranks as one of his most famous pieces. You see it everywhere. But as far as we know, nobody posting the art has bothered to read the story, so we bought a copy of this Midwood Books classic and sat down with some cold white wine. It took just over three hours to read, which was perfect timing because we were out of wine by then. Basically, you have a corporate drone who has his pick of women but isn't inspired by any of them. There's Adele, the society woman who's the major shareholder of the company. There's the boss's smoldering cougar secretary Mildred. There's the drab but sweet office assistant Nina. There's Gladys, the always available member of the steno pool. And eventually there's the eighteen-year-old new girl Dolly. We have no idea which one is supposed to be depicted in Rader's cover art. Probably Mildred, though she's a redhead in the book.
Anyway, the protagonist's continual scheming to get laid leads to him landing an executive position, and from there he finds himself in the middle of a takeover war. If he makes the right moves he'll end up as company president, and if not—well, at least he still has love. And is there any doubt who he'll end up with? Take a guess. Of course it's the drab but sweet Nina—but only after she transforms herself into a super hotty. Fringe Benefits may be a classic in the pantheon of mid-century sleaze art, but don't be fooled into reading it. There isn't enough humor or sex to maintain interest, and with vocabulary like “sarcasmed” and “sideglanced,” the writing might make you wonder if Rock Anthony got his break because he had an uncle in Midwood's executive suite. You know what the real fringe benefit is? We read the bad books so you don't have to.
A tease? Just because I strip down to my frillies and straddle a stool? You got some dirty ideas, mister.
Above, The Teaser, by Jason Hytes, aka John Plunkett, for Midwood Books, with top notch brushwork by the wizard of sexually suggestive paperback art Paul Rader. The story: a virginal girl is taught about sex by her eager lover, but shows such an aptitude for it that her desires grow to the point where they become perverse and freaky. Sounds like the perfect woman to us. Copyright 1963.
Vice so nice they did it thrice.
Above, a cover for a rare triple novel featuring the sleaze work of Joan Ellis, Jill Hammond, and March Hastings. We like how the stories cover three different stages of life—Teen-Age Sex Party is high school, Office Playmate is the working world, and Experiment in Adultery is married life. A follow-up triple included Middle-Aged Miscreants, Retired but Desired, and One Dick in the Grave. Well, not really. But we missed our calling, don't you think? The cover art here is from Paul Rader, and the copyright is 1968.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1931—Nevada Approves Gambling
In the U.S., the state of Nevada passes a resolution allowing for legalized gambling. Unregulated gambling had been commonplace in the early Nevada mining towns, but was outlawed in 1909 as part of a nationwide anti-gaming crusade. The leading proponents of re-legalization expected that gambling would be a short term fix until the state's economic base widened to include less cyclical industries. However, gaming proved over time to be one of the least cyclical industries ever conceived.
1941—Tuskegee Airmen Take Flight
During World War II, the 99th Pursuit Squadron, aka the Tuskegee Airmen, is activated. The group is the first all-black unit of the Army Air Corp, and serves with distinction in Africa, Italy, Germany and other areas. In March 2007 the surviving airmen and the widows of those who had died received Congressional Gold Medals for their service.
1906—First Airplane Flight in Europe
Romanian designer Traian Vuia flies twelve meters outside Paris in a self-propelled airplane, taking off without the aid of tractors or cables, and thus becomes the first person to fly a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft. Because his craft was not a glider, and did not need to be pulled, catapulted or otherwise assisted, it is considered by some historians to be the first true airplane.
1965—Leonov Walks in Space
Soviet cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov leaves his spacecraft the Voskhod 2 for twelve minutes. At the end of that time Leonov's spacesuit had inflated in the vacuum of space to the point where he could not re-enter Voskhod's airlock. He opened a valve to allow some of the suit's pressure to bleed off, was barely able to get back inside the capsule, and in so doing became the first person to complete a spacewalk.
1966—Missing Nuke Found
Off the coast of Spain in the Mediterranean, the deep submergence vehicle Alvin locates a missing American hydrogen bomb. The 1.45-megaton nuke had been lost by the U.S. Air Force during a midair accident over Palomares, Spain. It was found resting in nearly three-thousand feet of water and was raised intact on 7 April.
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