If you use your imagination you can picture people getting royally screwed.
There are a lot of late-stage sleaze novels from Midwood Books, which went out of business around 1980 (Wikipedia says 1968, but it's wrong). We chose to read Will Rudd's 1978 romp Joy Ride for one reason—the cover features Swedish model Anita Hemmings, aka Annika Salmonsson, who we have upcoming on a rare headshop poster from 1972. Sadly, the book is a poorly written, overly long, raunchy but heatless story about a chump named Pollack whose cross country trip takes many strange turns.
But there is one point of interest: the cast of characters includes a couple named Harry and Meg. Harry is fair-skinned, while Meg is a “little lighter than her hair,” which is “tan and long.” Weird, right? They don't otherwise bear any resemblance to the royal couple, but still, you get unprompted visuals to accompany moments like: Meg, who'd opened her eyes and was beholding the world through semen-smeared glasses, felt Harry's cock swell gallantly in her mouth. It was worth a chuckle, but don't let it lure you. The book is really, really horrible.
You know, fabric uses up an awful lot of paint. Why don't you ditch the wrap and we'll just make this a nude.
Here's another addition to our collection of covers with artists and models. We've also shared a few strays that use the same theme, such as here. A Female Female by Brad Curtis deals with the adventures of a first-time artist's model named Bee who crosses the line between nude modeling as a professional versus sexual activity. We last saw Curtis years ago when we shared a cover for his 1963 novel Man Trap. Both that one and the one above were painted by the prolific Paul Rader, who we've seen a lot of and will see again.
Why are our uniforms are so tight? Why is it so hot in here? Why does the warden carry a riding crop?
The answer to all of the above questions is: It's a women-in-prison novel. There are variations with these, though. The warden might might favor a sharp tongue over a riding crop. The temperature might be warm to encourage stripping, or cool to encourage sleeping in huddled groups. In all cases, however, the cavity searches last way longer than needed to find secreted contraband. Mike Avallone later went on to write some reputable books, but he'll always be remembered for his sleaze, especially this one and his all-time classic Sex Kitten. You can get more of an idea what the book is about from the rear cover, just below. We've read enough of these novels to satisfy our curiosity, so we took a pass on this one.
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.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1952—Chaplin Returns to England
Silent movie star Charlie Chaplin returns to his native England for the first time in twenty-one years. At the time it is said to be for a Royal Society benefit, but in reality Chaplin knows he is about to be banned from the States because of his political views. He would not return to the U.S. for twenty years.
1910—Duke of York's Cinema Opens
The Duke of York's Cinema opens in Brighton, England, on the site of an old brewery. It is still operating today, mainly as a venue for art films, and is the oldest continually operating cinema in Britain.
1975—Gerald Ford Assassination Attempt
Sara Jane Moore, an FBI informant who had been evaluated and deemed harmless by the U.S. Secret Service, tries to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford. Moore fires one shot at Ford that misses, then is wrestled to the ground by a bystander named Oliver Sipple.
1937—The Hobbit is Published
J. R. R. Tolkien publishes his seminal fantasy novel The Hobbit, aka The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Marketed as a children's book, it is a hit with adults as well, and sells millions of copies, is translated into multiple languages, and spawns the sequel trilogy The Lord of Rings.
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