*sigh* This was more fun before the social distancing thing.
Orrie Hitt turns his sleazolicious talents to the subject of nudism for the succinctly titled Nudist Camp, published by Beacon Signal in 1957. We're treated to the story of an Icelandic immigrant to the U.S. named Della who finds herself needing to earn her keep due to a looming divorce, and turns her patch of rural land into a nudist resort. Problem is her partner in this scheme is secretly planning to photograph the visitors and blackmail them with the prints. When Della finds out, she's aghast, and bends her efforts toward thwarting this rude plan, leading to a scheme to steal the photos and hopefully burn them. Mixed into the intrigue is a bit of romance, and lots of waxing rhapsodic about Iceland and its beautiful women. That part Hitt actually got right. We've been there, and the women do in fact often have perfect ivory skin. Despite these factoids, and the exploration of body-free culture, Nudist Camp is a preposterous tale, uninspiringly told, signifying very little. You know what would have made it a lot better? More nudity. Go and figure.
You can't keep a good woman down south.
Another day, another bit of light sleaze. Sherry, written by Hodge Evens and published by Beacon Signal in 1961, tells the story of a naive young woman who takes a trip south of the border to Mexico with her boyfriend, loses him, loses her money, and loses reasonable options for getting back to the U.S. after she's mistaken for a prostitute, accused of murder, and pursued by heroin smugglers. She must somehow make it home before she ends up in an Ensenada prison or enslaved, but how, when she's broke and hunted? With the only currency she has, of course. That sounds positively sleaze-packed, doesn't it? But considering the premise, Sherry is pretty chaste. We'll give Evens credit, though—he gets you rooting for his heroine. His name was a pseudonym, it seems, though nobody can say with certainty what his real identity was. It'll probably turn up eventually, though. They usually do. The cover art on this is uncredited.
Florida sleaze in the Florida Keys.
In Offshore Resort, written by Dee Winters and published in 1962, a Key West bartender is enticed into a job on a swanky resort island and finds there's all sorts of sexual mixing and matching going on between its rich denizens, and that he's expected to join the activities as a boy toy. He took the job in the first place to be close to his girlfriend, an unhappily married, idle-rich trophy wife whose husband is a drunken bully. Watching his true love play the perfect wife is hard enough to watch, but the scenario gets more complicated when his neighbor, innocent young Angel, gets a job at the resort too and draws the attentions of the place's worst men. Winters could have gone all sorts of interesting places with this narrative, but reached none of them. Beacon Signal sleaze titles are wildly hit and miss. This one is a miss.
The author's lack focus will quickly become clear.
We read Paul Gregory's 1961 sleazer Naked Lens and it was, well, quite disappointing. The cover talks about a character named Alice posing for “those pictures you hear about,” but the book isn't actually about her. It's about a photographer named Mike who wants to transition from news to high art and decides to use any means needed to get there. He takes nude photos of Alice when she's drunk, which for Beacon Books is enough to imply that the story is about her, when in reality she occupies maybe one twentieth of the narrative.
The book is poorly written from start to finish, but the worst part is how Gregory writes dialogue in which characters constantly use each other's names:
“But why, Mike?”
“I don't know why.”
“Well, I want to know, Mike.”
“There's no reason.”
“There's always a reason, Mike, even if you don't realize.”
There's always a reason books are bad, too, even if the author doesn't realize. Laughable dialogue, weak characters, a thin plot, and the empty promise of erotica but no sexual thrills at all. You can skip this one.
Loyal wife learns that there's nothing like a really good sidepiece.
This cover for Dominique Napier's 1961 novel House Party, a striking piece of art, was painted by Edward Moritz. We think the woman depicted looks a little like Diana Dors. The main character Betsy is actually a brunette, but this may be one of those paintings that was made independently of the book. Said book is a pretty well written sexual awakening tale about a woman whose husband doesn't ring her bell, and who blames herself. But during a weekend mansion party on the tony Connecticut seashore a longtime crush makes her ladyparts tingle, and she realizes she's not as cold as she thought. She has misgivings about cheating, of course, but for various reasons the idea of getting a piece of side action starts to sound good. Napier's aspirations are F. Scott Fiztgerald-ish, but the literary heft is lacking. If the erotic amperage had been doubled or tripled we think it would have been a much better book, but still, it was reasonably fun.
Explain shareholder one more time. Who exactly am I holding and what if I don't want to share him?
This pretty orange cover for Ken Barry's Executive Boudoir is better than average, we think, which is fitting because the book is better than average sleaze. Often these tales are terribly written, but Barry tries and succeeds in building a realistic backstory dealing with a battle over a corporate presidency between a patriarch's inexperienced daughter, Lisa, and Jim, the VP who always expected the role would be his one day. Complicating matters is the fact that the two are in a long term relationship. When Lisa supersedes her ambitious boyfriend he's greatly dismayed, but things go from bad to worse when an oily opportunist begins super seeding Lisa. It turns into musical beds with a big business flavor, but some fairly realistic emotion to carry the concept off. The book's main flaws are its presumption that women can't run businesses, and its stupidly pat ending. But you can't ask for too much in this genre. It works fine, for the most part. The copyright on this is 1962 and the cover is uncredited.
There are some places even sleaze novels shouldn't go.
Above you see a cover for Din Andrew's 1965 novel Big Orvie. All the other websites we've visited have this art as by an unidentified person, but all the other websites have a slightly different cover (which we posted below) on which the woman is wearing a longer dress, the sky has an impressionist texture, and—crucially—the signature is simply missing. Our version is signed at bottom right by Clement Micarelli. Look there in the tree bark. See it? So we can officially rescue this from the unidentified bin. We always planned to share more art from him. Having found something not previously known to have come from his brush is a nice bonus. Our work is done for today.
On second thought, maybe not. There's the actual book to consider, isn't there? Was it banned at any point? Probably not, but we have to wonder. We expected Big Orvie to be lightweight sleaze. How foolish of us. This countrified taboo smasher dealing with a mentally disabled and oversexed bumpkin named Orville Stroup goes beyond mere sleaze. Some might even call it irresponsible, with its unflinching (but mercifully brief) forays into pedophilia. In fact, it's a book that, assuming its contents were widely known to the general public, you'd have a hard time explaining to your friends why you have it. Consider yourself advised. Now our work is done.
Unless that's a tube of sunscreen in your swim trunks, your reaction to seeing a nude sunbather is wildly inappropriate.
Imagine a beautiful woman coming naked out of the ocean like a water nymph. Sounds like the ultimate male fantasy, right? She doesn't even mind you ogling her like a perv. But after she's gone not only doesn't anyone believe you ever met her—they all think your insistence that you did signifies the onset of mental illness. Is Girl on the Beach sleaze? Romance? Actually, when it finally gets around to a tangible plot it turns out to be a mystery having to do with high end art collecting and a painting that might be worth a fortune. The fact that the lead character is a famous painter, now inspired by the beach girl to new heights of creativity, is a sly lead-in to the book's crime element. We certainly appreciate author Max Day's effort to do something different, but we wouldn't go so far as to call the result good. Extra points for taking a road less traveled, though. The copyright on this is 1960 and the cover is uncredited.
Whoops, wrong room. Unless you're the one who wanted the kilo of blow.
Sometimes when you're a cop crime comes right to you, such as on this cover for Lady Cop by J. T. Pritchard. This was a fast read. Basically, when her father's death is ruled a suicide, a woman comes to believe it was murder and joins the police force with the ultimate goal of finding the killer or killers. Pritchard has zero inclination to make a true mystery of this, so he takes the easy route of having the killer come to the heroine. Then, having put her in hot water, he again takes the easy route by having someone else save her ass. The provocative cover by Eddie Chan doesn't actually reflect a scene in the narrative. Lady cop is smart enough to lock her door. Conversely, girl wrestlers are not—the art came from 1952's Loves of a Girl Wrestler, below. See another cover for that at this link. Copyright on Lady Cop is 1955.
That old quote is true. Since I got into politics I've had quite a few fellows in bed and most of them were strange.
In Winchell Barry's Scarlet City ambitious anti-heroine Lora Paton insinuates herself into the inner workings of a big city's political and vice machines by using her own inner workings on various lustful men. Her constant sexual activity leaves her by turns empowered and embittered, depending on how her scheme to get her main man into the governor's mansion is going at any given moment. If she can get him elected, they'll marry and live on the taxpayer's dime happily ever after. But is he playing straight with her? Hint: politicians are generally scum.
Scarlet City is pretty frank stuff from Barry, who was in reality longtime television writer Leo Rifkin. Through various plot covolutions he manages to get Lora in bed with five different men, each a rung on her ladder to the top. The book was originally published in 1953, with this Beacon edition coming in 1960. It was also reprinted in a 1954 issue of Daring magazine, so its mix of easy sex, political chicanery, and strange bedfellows must have done well on newsstands. It's not going to be studied in any creative writing classes, but we'll admit we liked it.
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