Hi. Becky said it would be okay if I slept over. She didn't specify in whose bedroom.
Above: the immediately identifiable work of the great Paul Rader fronting Russell Trainer's His Daughter's Friend. This is about a widower who gets into deep, deep trouble with a predatory teen. It came in 1964, after another book along the same lines, Wade Miller's famed Kitten with a Whip. Neither were among the first novels of their type. We'd guess the basic idea of adult-and-teen disaster goes back to the beginning of commercial publishing. The few we've read—aside from Lolita—feature girls above the age of consent back in 1964, and we bet that's the case here too. Those who don't read vintage books might suspect that such behavior is condoned, but it isn't—the entire point of these tales is that the men throw away or almost throw away everything, including their jobs, families, and freedom. We won't know exactly what His Daughter's Friend is about until we buy it, which we'll do, but not at two-hundred-plus dollars. That's the ask at the moment, and it's way too high. But someone will put it online at a reasonable price eventually. They almost always do.
Isn't it interesting how we all get better looking with every round?
This uncredited cover for Jackson Harmon's Night Spot, 1966, for Midwood Books, is another example that fits our cocktail tease collection. As there are hundreds of such covers out there, expect the set to keep growing indefinitely. Or at least until we run out of dumb quips.
Well, sure, honey, if that's what you want, I guess I can try to help you put this deal to bed.
Midwood Books had a near-monopoly on artist Paul Rader, and good thing, because the guy was brilliant. His cover for the sleaze novel Strictly Business features an amusing tableau of a dapper businessman chatting with his leering colleague, as a coy beauty sits nearby.
The cover blurb is a little deceptive. The husband in this tale is actually the first to cheat, which drives his wife to do the same, first sampling some same-sex sweetness, then bedding down with her hubbie's hated rival. While the husband has an affair to help his business, his wife cheats in retaliation. When the husband encourages her to use her wiles to help him seal a deal, she leaves him. End of book. So the cover text is not on target. Not only that, but the rear synopsis makes up a scenario that never occurs at any point. Such are the hazards of sleaze novels, but this one is still a pretty fun read. Midwood was top of the genre for good reason.
And end with, “Therefore, honey, I've left you for my secretary.” Drop that in the mail room, then confirm our flight to Bimini.
In mid-century sleaze novels every working woman is a bombshell and every employer is tall, dapper, and virile. Paul Rader hits both notes on this cover for Temporary Secretary by Joan Ellis. Rader was an amazing illustrator. The key to this effort is in the angle of the male figure's head. There's no doubt he's aiming his gaze not at the secretary's shorthand pad, but a few degrees to its right. Very well done, copyright 1965.
A long day's journey into sleaze.
After reading Stan Shafer's Heat, which we tried only because it had Kitty Swan on the front, and Rand McTiernan's Doctor's Dirty Tricks, which we tried only because it had Christina Lindberg on the front, we had one of our recurring cycles of interest in ’60s and ’70s sleaze novels and decided to download a few. First up is 1971's Hard Rider by Conrad Grimes, which we chose because it was published by top sleaze imprint Midwood. The book is about pals Annie and Claudia, who buy a van, paint it psychedelically, and set out from Kentucky to see the world. Or at least the United States. Or at least the groovy parts. They head east to New York City, then west to San Francisco, and manage to have all the expected cultural-sexual adventures of the era. They unknowingly star in clandestinely filmed pornography, sojourn in an all women's commune called the Sisterhood that's devoted to eradicating men, and enjoy sweet lesbian love with each other. Annie eventually finds her place as a West Coast political radical, and Claudia finds home and hearth in the heartland. The book is nothing special, on any level, even though it's incredibly raunchy. But even raunch demands skill. Grimes could use more.
She saw, she conquered, she came—over and over.
We read Jason Hytes' 1962 sleaze novel Come One-Come All in electronic form, and thanks to a glitch in the page count we had no idea how long it was. Which led to the moment when we thought to ourselves, “This is getting interesting,” swiped to the next page and were confronted with the words—The End. By that page the book's lead character Barbara Martin had succumbed to her own sexual voracity, progressed to random seductions with both sexes, reached the point of being lured into prostitution, and dealt with the decision working out not well at all. And by not well at all we mean really not well. So while unknowingly swiping to The End, we were anticipating the commencement of bloody retribution by Barbara against the tale's villain. Nope. Barbara has learned her lesson and moves on. And so have we. But we'll say this much—for the genre, Hytes is not a bad writer.
It's a different kind of jungle book.
When we saw this cover for Stan Shafer's Heat, we had to have the book, because that's Kitty Swan, Swedish b-movie actress from the 1960s, hanging on a vine and looking good doing it. The shot is an unretouched promo image from her 1968 lost world flick Gungala la pantera nuda. You can see the studio lights behind her and a guy's hand on the ropes at lower right, providing a step for her foot. If this had been used for the movie, the studio would have cleaned those elements off the final version, so we think of this as an outtake image, borrowed by Midwood Books. Because of the publisher, we figured Heat would be light sleaze, but we were wrong—it's pure triple-x raunch.
In short, a sexually precocious girl named Anna is taken from her father and sent to a nunnery, where her corrupting influence prompts her being shipped off to Brazil, a place where she presumably can do less harm. Unfortunately, her plane crashes (it's partly her fault, if you'd like to imagine how it happened) and she's lost in the jungle, there to be rescued by tribesmen who think her the earthly incarnation of a fabled sex goddess. She becomes a pawn in a power struggle between the tribe's leader and its head priest, as well as their sexual plaything, and that of a horny puma.
Most of the events in this bizarre tale take place during the 1930s, and are related via a contemporary frame that features an elderly Anna narrating her own extraordinary life story to a reporter—and you just know that's going to get weird too, because the reporter is beautiful and Anna remains hot, a youthfulness she attributes to daily orgasms. We'll stop there, except to mention that several early plot events situate this book waaaaay beyond the pale for the sleaze genre. In fact, if not for the ultra rare Swan photo we wouldn't write about it at all. Actually, that's not true. We considered not writing about it, but we don't self censor. So let's just say you've been warned.
Alright, who do I have to lure to my hotel room and get photographed in a compromising position to win this thing?
Her sash says Miss Alabama, but since she fronts a Midwood sleaze paperback we're crowning her Miss Midwood Sleaze 1962. The cover was painted by Paul Rader and the rear text explains all you need to know about Walter Dyer's tale: This book tells you how beauty contests are judged and about the love-ripened contestants who will go to any lengths to win! It definitely sounds like a fertile milieu for a sleaze novel, and got us thinking about our favorite beauty contest winners. Lynda Carter comes to mind. Candice Bergen. Lee Meriwether. Isabel Sarli. Sophia Loren competed but didn't win, amazingly. Here's someone else who competed and didn't win, but we love her. Who else is there? Vanessa Williams. Love her too, though not for her pageant work. Hah. Same with Isabelle Chaudieu. Maybe we can put together a post of vintage stars who competed in beauty contests. That might be fun. Top of the list: Sean Connery, aspiring Mr. Universe of 1953.
Since you're supposed to be so good at reading signs, what am I asking for right now?
Val Seran's 1967 novel Grand Slam Girl took us by surprise by being a sleaze novel. The rear cover text suggested a crime thriller set in the world of baseball, and it's that, but it's also an erotic novel littered with a dozen or so semi-explicit lovemaking scenes. Such scenes are fun when they're well written. Here they aren't, and an additional problem is that there are almost as many rapes as sex scenes, as a quartet of organized crime thugs use sexual assault as their go-to weapon. The thriller aspect of the story deals with a minor league pitcher named Jack Sweet who gets involved with the fiancée of his murdered brother. Did she kill him? We didn't care, and we weren't intrigued by the book's heroin smuggling subplot either. Somehow Seran, aka Curt Allen, managed to publish at least ten books. Based on this effort we find that surprising.
Edit: We've just learned that the cover, uncredited by Bee-Line Books, is repurposed Paul Rader art from the 1962 Midwood Books sleazer The Sex Game, written by Mike Skinner.
When you think about the enormity of the sky and the vastness of nature doesn't it make taking off your blouse seem insignificant?
Above, a cover for Chris Harrison's sleaze novel Sex Ranch, published by Midwood Books in 1968, the last year the company was active. The art is unsigned but it's the work of the masterful Paul Rader, who we just saw yesterday. But we brought him back because he's one of our favorites. Hell, he's a favorite of anyone who follows vintage paperback art. Not only is he a top notch illustrator, but his work has given us many opportunities for enjoyable riffing. You can find some amusing efforts here, here, here, and here.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1969—Allende Meteorite Falls in Mexico
The Allende Meteorite, the largest object of its type ever found, falls in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The original stone, traveling at more than ten miles per second and leaving a brilliant streak across the sky, is believed to have been approximately the size of an automobile. But by the time it hit the Earth it had broken into hundreds of fragments.
1985—Matt Munro Dies
English singer Matt Munro, who was one of the most popular entertainers on the international music scene during the 1960s and sang numerous hits, including the James Bond theme "From Russia with Love," dies from liver cancer at Cromwell Hospital, Kensington, London.
1958—Plane Crash Kills 8 Man U Players
British European Airways Flight 609 crashes attempting to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport in Munich, West Germany. On board the plane is the Manchester United football team, along with a number of supporters and journalists. 20 of the 44 people on board die in the crash.
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