You better hurry up. At the top of the hour I turn back into a housewife and hand you a list of chores.
Jason Hytes' 1960 sleazer Sex Before Six is about a married twenty-something who uses her body to climb all the way from nowheresville to the cusp of a career in professional filmdom. She's willing to lie, connive, and serially cheat on her mild mannered husband to reach her goal but is disturbed when she discovers film people are depraved. What's their depravity, exactly? Some of them are gay and lesbian. The word “evil” occurs more than once. If you were to read this with your anti-regressive filter activated you might find a thrill or two sandwiched around the homophobia and Bible style retribution, but we wouldn't go so far as to recommend the book. The best thing about it is the brilliant cover femme fatale painted by Bruce Minney. We've seen magazine art from him before but this is the first paperback front we've come across. Top work.
He'll choose me in the end. She's a plain old black pepper, whereas I'm more of a savory golden turmeric.
More flavorful goodness from Midwood-Tower, 1964's The Spice of Life by Grant Corgan. Basically it's about a bunch of suburban swappers and the usual problems that arise when that type of wanton mixing occurs. The cover on this is uncredited.
Once you go down there's no turning back.
But isn't Third Street in the other direction?
We're gonna go down the third street.
You mean the third street from here?
If you wanna think of it that way.
Why are you holding my hand?
The third street gets slippery. You'll see.
Super rare Joan Ellis authored Midwood-Tower lesbian sleaze novel about a female painter and female model who come together over more than just art, 1964, with Paul Rader on the cover chores.
Why don't you get undressed and we'll have a coming in party instead.
It's mandatory to occasionally share a cover from Midwood-Tower, so above you see Coming Out Party by Kimberly Kemp, who was a pseudonym, in this case occupied by Gilbert Fox. The story involves a homeless beauty picked up on the street by a wealthy NYC couple who give her a place to live but turn her into a plaything—topless chores, nude photographs, sexual duties with the heads of house. You know—the usual maid stuff. They may be dirty people but at least everyone ends up sqeaky clean. The cover art is by Paul Rader, and the copyright is 1965.
It's not the size of the caucus that matters. It's what you do with it.
This one is self explanatory. Nick Vendor's Sabrina and the Senator, published in 1960 by Midwood Books with cover art by Paul Rader, is billed as a behind the scenes story of the private lives and public affairs of politicians and their playmates. Thanks to the current U.S. president, this sort of thing is on people's minds in a way it hasn't been since Bill Clinton. As fans and collectors of pulp fiction, we've always gleefully wallowed in political sleaze. Well we're up to our comb overs in it now.
It's my ex, if you must know. I was in love, and lower back tattoos were trendy. But then the creep really hurt me.
Reliable old Midwood graces Robert Bruce's sleaze drama The Face of Evil with a nice piece of Victor Olson art. Though it would be funny if the book were about a woman's tattoo mistake, it actually concerns a rich widow named Marguerite who serially dominates and destroys men. Olson's work on her hair, with its turquoise and violet streaks, requires a second glance to really appreciate. It's copyright 1966
*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.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1964—Warren Commission Issues Report
The Warren Commission, which had been convened to examine the circumstances of John F. Kennedy's assassination, releases its final report, which concludes that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, killed Kennedy. Today, up to 81% of Americans are troubled
by the official account of the assassination.
1934—Queen Mary Launched
The RMS Queen Mary, three-and-a-half years in the making, launches from Clydebank, Scotland. The steamship enters passenger service in May 1936 and sails the North Atlantic Ocean until 1967. Today she is a museum and tourist attraction anchored in Long Beach, U.S.A.
1983—Nuclear Holocaust Averted
Soviet military officer Stanislav Petrov, whose job involves detection of enemy missiles, is warned by Soviet computers that the United States has launched a nuclear missile at Russia. Petrov deviates from procedure, and, instead of informing superiors, decides the detection is a glitch. When the computer warns of four more inbound missiles he decides, under much greater pressure this time, that the detections are also false. Soviet doctrine at the time dictates an immediate and full retaliatory strike, so Petrov's decision to leave his superiors out of the loop very possibly prevents humanity's obliteration. Petrov's actions remain a secret until 1988, but ultimately he is honored at the United Nations.
2002—Mystery Space Object Crashes in Russia
In an occurrence known as the Vitim Event, an object crashes to the Earth in Siberia and explodes with a force estimated at 4 to 5 kilotons by Russian scientists. An expedition to the site finds the landscape leveled and the soil contaminated by high levels of radioactivity. It is thought that the object was a comet nucleus with a diameter of 50 to 100 meters.
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