Whoa! Did I say round heels? I have no idea why I was even looking down there.
We come across the phrase “round heels” in vintage fiction all the time. It cracks us up because it's so rude, so sexist, so steeped in patriarchal double-standard. All of you know what round heels means, right, or did we get ahead of ourselves? Well, if not, it means that a woman will so readily have sex with whoever she meets that she might as well have round heels so she can fall on her back at any moment. She's a pushover.
Returning to that double standard thing, there's actually been a bit of a shift in recent years. Nowadays a woman might call a guy who gets around a fuckboy, which is the only insult referring to male sluttiness that we've ever noticed actually getting under guys' skins. Call him a manslut or a male hussy and he might laugh it off. Call him a fuckboy and he'll actually get angry most of the time. Such are the vagaries of English that if you tack “fuck” onto a term it's a whole new ballgame.
In any case, Lars Raymer's cheapie sleazer Round Heels was published in 1964 by Playtime Books and the art is by the always memorable Robert Bonfils. It also has one of the best cover blurbs we've ever seen: “She was a pushover, the easiest lay in town. Ask her doctor... or better still, ask his wife.” That's really funny. To us, anyway. As a side note, we'd like to add that sexually take-charge women are amazing. If not for you we'd still be playing Dungeons & Dragons on Friday nights. You make every university, nightclub, and church congregation better. Don't change a thing.
For a good time all you have to do is call.
Beth Hubbard is bored. That falls into the category of first world problems. Which is to say, she should really be able to cope, but she's an entitled suburban housewife who wants the best of everything, so she has an extramarital fling for thrills, ends up paid for the encounter, and from there is lured by the promise of easy money and good sex into continuing the affair. She has feelings for her new side piece, and as a result convinces herself she's simply doing what comes naturally while being given considerate gifts. Little does she know that this is all a set-up engineered by one of her best friends to sucker her into becoming a high class prostitute. Pretty soon the guy she likes disappears, his place is taken by others, and poor Beth starts to dislike what she sees in the mirror. The key with these housewife sexploitation books is to convincingly draw the main character into a life of vice, and the more seamlessly and realistically it's done, the better the book. Part-Time Call Girl is pretty good for the genre. We bought Beth as a character, and ultimately empathized with her plight. And that's pretty much all you can ask.
Horwitz Publications puts a Hollywood starlet to bed.
Above is a cover from Australian imprint Horwitz Publications for Marc Brody's thriller Lay Out My Lady, published in 1956. We've long featured Horwitz covers because they used photo-illustrations of famous or soon-to-be-famous actresses. This time the company chose U.S. actress and beneficiary of lucky genes Joi Lansing, clad in the sort of extravagant bedtime wear that was popular during the era, and whose time-defying beauty we've marveled over here and here. And here too. The face in the background is also an altered photo, though not of Lansing. We can't identify her. If you have any ideas feel free to inform us. Moving on to Marc Brody, he was both the author and star of these yarns, and claimed to be an intrepid crime reporter. That would be fascinating if it were true, but it wasn't. He was actually author William H. Williams, aka Bill Williams, and he wrote novels while sitting in a shed in his garden, which is about as far from the mean streets as anyone can get. But you have to give him credit—he churned out something like eighty of these books. We'll be revisiting him later. In the meantime you can see a bit more from him—including photo-illustrations of another beautiful actress—at this link.
No matter how hard you try you can't outrun destiny.
Richard Deming's 1960 novel Hit and Run, which came as the above Pocket edition with uncredited cover art, is a fast and easy read about three people who attempt to evade blame for a hit and run accident. How's that for a literal title? It doesn't happen often. Anyway, an unlucky pedestrian was left with a broken hip, which would be a simple insurance company problem if the trio weren't so keen to cover up an extramarital affair. So they embark on their clever scheme, but when the hospitalized victim unexpectedly dies they're suddenly on the hook for manslaughter instead of reckless driving. It gets worse—as it always does in crime fiction—when one of trio turns out to be not exactly on the same page as the other two. We enjoyed this tale. It has classic bad-to-worse momentum, and got from A to Z with a minimum of fuss. Simplicity wins sometimes.
When ragtag crooks hook up with a bevy of Bahama mamas a tropical storm breaks.
Basil Heatter 1963's novel Virgin Cay was an enjoyable tale, so when we saw this Robert McGinnis cover for Harry and the Bikini Bandits we couldn't resist. The novel, which came in 1969 with Fawcett/Gold Medal's edition appearing in 1971, is the story of seventeen-year-old Clayton Bullmore's trip to the Bahamas to see his nutty uncle Harry, who lives on a raggedy ketch and has a magic touch with women of all types. This is where the bikinis come in, but the bikini-wearers are not the bandits (except, technically, one). The bandits are Harry, a couple of his acquaintances, and Clay, who's dragged into a scheme to rob the big casino in Nassau. The combination of coming-of-age story and casino caper is fun, and Heatter mixes in humor, sex, and action, and folds it all into a winning waterborne milieu. He even manages to add a shipwreck, a deserted island, and buried treasure, so we'd say he includes all the most beloved tropes of tropical adventures. It'll make you want to run away to the Caribbean. Heatter is two-for-two in our ledger.
This comes as a surprise to me, but I think I'm too wiped out to have sex again today.
There's so much sleaze out there. We continue to be amazed at the sheer volume of it. Above is a cover for Ralph Whitmore Jr.'s 1965 sleazer Passions Unlimited, from All Star Books. We would give a lot to know how much all these smut books sold compared to regular fiction, but that info is not available to us. Considering the sheer number of these we run across, though, the profits must have been considerable. We have several sleaze novels lined up for reading, so we'll be back on this subject soon.
Let's briefly consider someone else's feelings. How do you think your rejection of my inappropriate sexual advances made me feel?
We thought we'd exhausted the supply of therapist sleaze novels, but not quite. Above you see The Glass Cage by Edward Ronns, which is about a Park Avenue shrink who finds himself in sticky situations with upper crust women. This was published in 1962 with Bob Abbett cover art. We don't have our shrink sleaze covers keyworded, which means if you want to see the others we'll have to usher you to them ourselves. They're to be found here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Will His Majesty be cleaning the bathroom today? Because His Majesty's wife will not.
We've spent some time in tropic countries, which makes it hard for us to resist books with tropical settings. The above, His Majesty O'Keefe, is amazingly obscure considering it was made into a 1954 film by Warner Bros. starring Burt Lancaster. What you get here is a fictionalized account of actual Irish American roustabout as David Dean O'Keefe, who in 1870 flees a murder charge in Georgia by sailing away to the other side of the world. He ends up on the island of Yap, then part of Spanish East India, today part of Micronesia, and establishes himself as a respected copra trader. Other South Seas books tend toward irony and tragedy, but here O'Keefe achieves amazing success. From Yap he expands his trade to other islands, and becomes known as the King of Yap, the Monarch of Mapia, and the Sovereign of Sonsorol.
In addition, he's an enlightened type. We don't know if that part is true, considering the book was written nearly a lifetime after the real O'Keefe's death, and considering the authors Lawrence Klingman and Gerald Green seem to have a bone to pick with Germans, who are portrayed as racist brutes. We can understand that. It was published only five years after World War II, but weren't all colonials racist brutes? We suspect O'Keefe is portrayed better than he really was in order to create contrast with the hated Germans. The real O'Keefe ran Confederate cargos through Union naval blockades during the U.S. Civil War, so how enlightened could he have been? But it's possible he was opportunistic more than he was political. Or the blockade busting could have been pure fabrication. O'Keefe said so when investigated in 1867, but then what would he say?
But whatever—we're talking about the book, and we'll take the respectful and equality-minded character here over the bigoted heroes that tend to dominate novels set around this period. We're still reeling over Slave Ship. We won't go into how Klingman and Green conclude their story. We'll just say the result is pretty entertaining. We suspect the movie version is g-rated by comparison, and for sure it will be a whitewash historically, but we're going to look for it and have a watch. It has Lancaster, after all, and he's one of the reliable indicators of quality in vintage cinema—he's no Bogart or Cary Grant, mind you, but his movies tend to be good. We'll report back. His Majesty O'Keefe was originally published in 1950, and this Universal Giant edition came in 1952 with cover art by Warren King.
This looks easy but it took ages to master. The ceiling of my house looks like Swiss cheese and I went through two tvs and a cat.
This spinning on a finger trick is definitely not recommended if you want to pass your gun safety course, but you'd certainly be the envy of your friends—the ones you didn't accidentally shoot. You can be sure Miss Dorothy had this trick perfected, since she was a franchise character who appeared in three novels by Oscar Montgomery, aka José del Valle, in 1952 and 1953. Poker de blondes is the second entry, the first is here, and the third will follow at some point.
I always wanted to do more for the less fortunate, but I never knew sharing could feel that good.
Beacon-Signal was mighty prolific with sleaze novels during the 1960s. We've read such gems as Lady Cop, The Man Eating Angel, and the out-there classic Troubled Star. Brad Hart's 1963 sleazer Bella Vista's Wives, for which you see uncredited cover and original art above and below, has the expected sex, but also delves in a believable way into the details of fundraising from the rich, as main character Bob Jennings is hired to raise millions for an upgrade to Bella Vista's hospital. Little known but proven fact about giving—the poor give more than the rich, as a percentage of income. High bracket folks give the most when measured in sheer dollars, but on the whole get stingier the richer they get. Thanks to Hart we now know why—the rich are busy trying to screw each other's spouses. As sleaze goes this was brilliant. When has a sex novel ever explained the tax breaks behind making charitable gifts of appreciated stocks? Only here. Game, set, and match—Brad Hart.
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