Monday, August 22, 2011

"True" Trash: The Joy of Hustling

The Joy of Hustling
(Manor Books Inc, 1976)
Gregg Tyler

"The unabashed confessions of a boy who knew them all-the rich, the beautiful, the talented – and some of them paid for the experience."

A dated but enjoyable sleazy little book, condescending in tone, telling the story of some forgotten bisexual movie-star groupie and hustler, namely the author, Gregg Tyler. For some odd reason, it seems to be a pricey and sought-after collectible.
Concentrating on his life during the 60s, when Tyler isn't too busy lecturing, he comes across as an egoistic, conniving Candide who slowly lets the excessive lifestyle he moves around in to turn him into a cynical, leaching opportunist. Most of the book is spent narrating his long involvement as secretary and regular fuck of Jayne Mansfield, whose third husband was his cousin Matt Cimber,** while the rest recounts his hustling days on the streets of Los Angeles and New York. If he is to be believed, Tyler seems to be a magnet to the stars, for they seem to stumble across his path — or into his bed — everywhere he goes. From Bobby Darin* to semi-forgotten Dutch painter/writer Jan Cremer to Sal Mineo, from Judy Garland and Liza to Sharon Tate — he too claims to have turned down an offer to spend that infamous night partying with her and the other victims — to most of the Kennedy Family to Marilyn, Tyler claims to have met them all, plus many more, even if only in passing.

When dishing the dirt about the (at the time) still-living Hollywood He-men whose dicks Tyler has had in him (or vise versa), he regrettably uses only pseudonyms, probably to save himself from possible lawsuits from all his supposed ex-tricks. Still, Tyler does dish a lot as he screws his way across the USA, going from one famous person's funeral to the other, from one sugar daddy to the next, losing himself in drugs and alcohol along the way. His gradual decline echoes the rot that he sees seeping through the USA, but Tyler fails to see that despite all his "liberated" bacchanalian views, he eventually becomes very much an inflexible, judgmental example of all that is bad in the society he moves in and complains about. Much like how Christiane F., in her biography, feels herself superior to the rest of the world because she's a junky and they aren't, Tyler seems to think that he is a better person than everyone else because he is, well, a hustler and leech.

The 1970s he skips over with a sketchy chapter that reveals that he himself has become better than the world around him by marrying into and becoming part of established society—that is, Old Money, not Hollywood. Nothing like riding the coattails of others to prove yourself better than the rest.

Graphic for its day, The Joy of Hustling is entertaining enough and relatively well written, but a tad too bitchy and opinionated, with Tyler himself unintentionally coming across somewhat dislikable. Kitty Kelly he ain't, however, so for modern tastes he even sometimes comes across a bit too discrete. But for old-time "true" sleaze, it makes for a good page-turner.

*That highly reliable Pulitzer-Prize-winning (NOT!) tabloid Star did a nice little article on November 12, 1991, entitled "Bobby Darin's Shocking Secret Affair with Jayne Mansfield" in which Tyler tells of them having a threesome.

**Matt Cimber, born Thomas Vitale Ottaviano, is an Italian-American film producer, scriptwriter and director who was Jayne's last husband (from 1964 to 1966) and with whom she had a son. His cinematic directorial debut was her last film, the drama Single Room Furnished (1968). Since then, he has primarily specialized in trashy and exploitative vehicles, including early X-rated pseudo-documentaries and a couple of cult Blaxploitation films. He quit the industry in 1984, but returned in 2006. He currently even has two films in production.
Although it all has really nothing to do with "crappy books", below is presentation of posters and film clips to his films.

Single Room Furnished
(1968, dir. as Matteo Ottaviano)

Plot summary from imdb (written by filmfactsman): "Three stories in one: Johnie (Jayne Mansfield) is married, but her husband deserts her when she becomes pregnant. She changes her name to Mae and takes a job as a waitress. She falls in love, but her fiancé leaves her just as they're about to get married. So Mae changes her name to Eileen and becomes a prostitute."
A 24-second snippet from the film:

Man & Wife

It would seem that the returns of his foray into serious filmmaking didn't pay off well enough, for in Cimber's second project he went the way of pseudo-documentary and hoisted onto the American public one of the first films to show the Full in-and-out Monty. For the sake of helping the modern couple of the day, the film "moves from anatomy charts and Asian erotic art into actual footage of two couples demonstrating nearly fifty different sexual positions."
Watch the trailer (snore) here at Something Weird.

He & She
It would seem that the pseudo-documentary was a lucrative field in the early days of adult filmmaking, for he followed Man & Wife a year later with He & She. As the German Catholic Film Service (issue 18124) puts it, "In this sex education film, in addition to the obligatory sexologist there is only two young lovers. [...] In some places the film image freezes for a few seconds, always whenever [...] there are too clear close-ups." Charles Kilgore of ecco claims the film to be "A marked improvement over its predecessor [...,] He & She is unquestionably the most romantic of the 'white coaters'."
Watch the trailer (snore) here at Something Weird.

Africanus Sexualis (Black Is Beautiful)
Anyone remember John Howard Griffin's Black Like Me? Remember the bit about when he was hitchhiking, all the white dudes that gave him a ride always wanted him to show them his wiener because they wanted to see for themselves whether or not black men are better hung? I always thought that Griffin, a pre-Stonewall product of middle class heterosexuality, really missed half of what was actually going on: those closet cases that gave him a ride probably wanted to do a lot more than just see the forbidden fruit.
In this, Cimber's third "white coater", as these early pseudo-documentary pornos are apt to be called, he takes a look a how the brothers and sister play patty cake, this time with commentary by an "African" wearing the white coat. A film made by honkies for honkies who want to see forbidden fruit than for the then-denizens of inner-city urban renewal.
Watch the incredibly condescending and boring trailer here at Something Weird.
And, though it has nothing to do with the film, here a commercial from around the same time:

The Sexually Liberated Female
Poster from one-sheet index. Cimber, in his own biography as presented in (among other places) the badly written and spelt prospect for his upcoming film Femena (pdf here), fails to mention his X-rated documentaries and instead claims this film, The Sexually Liberated Female, as his follow-up project to Single Room Furnished. Starring Lindis Guinness (of Grave of the Vampire (1974 / full film) and a few porno films), Cimber claims that The Sexually Liberated Female was based on the 70s' sex advice classic The Sensuous Woman by "J" — which he misidentifies as The Sensuous Female — but that the publisher rescinded the rights when they realized that he had made a satire, thus the film was retitled. ("J", by the way, has long been known under her real name, Terry Garrity.) Most online sources claim it to be a "documentary"; according to Dan Pavlides at "This X-rated film features naked women demonstrating various techniques in masturbation. The proceedings are given an appetizing twist with the addition of whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Lindis Guiness narrates...". It would seem to be a lost film.
The image above left, according Glass Eye, is a production shot of the shoot of The Sensual Female, one the film's alternative titles (the German title was Jasmin — Die sinnliche Frau).

Sex and Astrology
More pseudo-documentary porn — Matt Cimber definitely know what he liked to film. Too bad no one who's ever seen this thing has ever written about it; it is nowhere to be found on the web. Another lost film waiting, like HIM, to be rediscovered.

AKA Love Is Catching. Matt Cimber goes from white coats to white discharge. According to "Calliope, a sex farce, is clearly an exploitative remake of the much more significant and famous film La Ronde (1950 & 1964). In this film, ten people have a succession of sexual encounters until all of them have given and received 'the gift that goes on giving,' sexually transmitted diseases. What was considered to be funny and sexy in the age of penicillin would not be considered appropriate in the later age of AIDS." Marc Edward Heuck of The Projectionist Has Been Drinking says at Temple of Schlock that: "Reportedly, Alamo Drafthouse has the sole surviving print of this La Ronde-style production..."

The Black Six
Matt Cimber moves from sexploitation into Blaxploitation, this one starring six NFL players [Gene Washington (San Francisco 49ers), "Mean" Joe Greene (Pittsburgh Steelers), Willie Lanier (Kansas City Chiefs), Lem Barney (Detroit Lions), Mercury Morris (Miami Dolphins) and Carl Eller (Minnesota Vikings).]; commonly viewed as not one of the best of the genre. The synopsis by frankfob2 at imdb: "A black high school student is caught dating a white girl by the girl's brother. He and his biker gang beat the boy to death. The boy's brother, who is a member of a black biker gang, hears about it and comes to town to avenge his brother's death." According to eccentric cinema, "The Black Six struggles to be entertaining even within the realm of 'So Bad It's Good' cinema."

That Girl from Boston
Based on a novel by Robert H. Rimmer, the author of The Harrad Experiment, and featuring no one less than Mamie van Doren. Going by what says Alex Jackinson says in his memoirs The Romance of Publishing, the film may never have been released: "The last time I saw Matt Cimber was in 1975. He had huge blowups of Mamie Van Doren as Princess Tassle and the movie was presumably ... [to] be released in six months. [...] Then — nothing. None of my phone calls were returned and both Monnstone Films and Matt Cimber vanished and I've never heard from him since." No poster or trailer or snippet is to be found on-line. Thus, The Girl from Boston seems to be yet another of that genre of film Cimber excels at: The Lost Film.

Alias Big Cherry
Based on Robert H. Adleman's book Alias Big Cherry: The Confessions of a Master Criminal, with appearances by the cult actresses Roberta Collins and Dyanne Thorne as well as a non-porno appearance by Colleen Brennan. The film tells the "true" story of 700-pound Sylvan Scolnick, aka Big Cherry, a career criminal and confidence man. Surprise: It seems to be yet another lost film.

The Candy Tangerine Man
I actually remember watching trailers for this on TV in DC as a kid: I was watching the B&W masterpiece Night of the Living Dead (1968 / trailer / full film) on "Creature Feature" while babysitting, and I swear this film bought all the advertising time. The Amazing World of Cult Movies has this to say about one of Samuel L. Jackson's favorite films: "Jaw-dropping Blaxploitation silliness from the director of Butterfly and the appalling Witch Who Came from the Sea warned 'Git Back Jack — Give Him No Jive ... He Is the Baaad'est Cat in '75.' He is, of course, Black Shampoo's John Daniels as The Baron, a married suburban businessman who leads a double life as a hardboiled pimp with a gold Rolls Royce (the headlights contain hidden machine-guns). This nonsensical premise is further exacerbated by silly clothing, tacky hookers, Italian gangsters, and a guy getting his hand chewed up by a garbage disposal. [...] Not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but some will find it irresistible." According to Roger Elbert, The Candy Tangerine Man is "a singularly unpleasant movie that somehow manages to squeeze a few humorous scenes in with the gore, the mutilations and the mass executions." Something Awful says "The Candy Tangerine Man is an amazing showcase of everything embarrassing in the 1970s." Sounds very promising, if you ask me. Could this be Cimber's masterpiece?
The opening scenes and credits of The Candy Tangerine Man:

A Gemini Affair
Film synopsis by Fryingham at imdb: "A hopeful young actress is lured to Hollywood by the seduction of fame and fortune. A friend she lives with while in Hollywood becomes her lover, and they both soon come to realize that the seedy Hollywood lifestyle is not for them." See the original Will Robinson's blonde hubba-hubba older sister Judy (Mart Kristen), as "Julie," have full frontal lesbian sex! Well, you could if the film were available anywhere...

Lady Cocoa
"Freedom's just another name for love."
Cimber returns to the Blaxploitation genre with Lady Cocoa, also known as Pop Goes the Weasel. Synopsis from Trash City: "Cocoa (Lola Falana) gets a 24-hour pass out of jail to testify against her former boyfriend. Two cops (Washington and Dreier) have to keep her alive for the night; needless to say, the boyfriend has a different opinion, and sends his minions to the Lake Tahoe casino where they're holed up. And Cocoa doesn't exactly help: fed-up with staying in her room, she starts demanding to buy dresses, be taken to dinner, etc. — or else she'll pull her co-operation. And, boy, if whining was an Olympic sport, Cocoa would be a gold medalist. A fairly smart script by George Theakos helps keep things moving; while I can't say the twists surprised us, our predictions were mostly "It'd be kinda cool if...", which we can live with. The performances are also solid: Dreier is very effective as the senior officer, while Washington plays a straight-shooting ghetto cop, uncertain what he's doing on this case." A well written review can be found here at WTFCinema. Lady Cocoa was remade years later as a comedy with music interludes and nuns known as Sister Act (1992 / trailer).
A scene from Lady Cocoa:

The Witch Who Came from the Sea
One of the 72 films banned in the UK as a "video nasty" in the 80s. From DVD Drive-In: "Millie Perkins stars in a career-breaking performance as Molly, a barmaid who spends her days babysitting her nephews and her nights slinging drinks at a local seaside bar. As Molly is introduced, she sits on the beach gazing at muscular studs working out on outdoor equipment... her fantasies becoming nastily violent as they become bloody corpses! Her overactive imagination also provokes a bizarre dream-like sequence where she has sex with two popular football players (both actors from Cimber's The Candy Tangerine Man), ties them up, then castrates them as blood sprays over her naked body!! But was it a fantasy? When their naked bodies are found the next morning, Molly begins to wonder if her frenzied visions are reality. And if they are, where does her hatred of men stem from?"
New trailer for the DVD release:

Tiger Man
Supposedly aka as Fist of Fury, but it is hard to believe that this film is even known at all. Cimber goes 3D.
Bad acting galore in a scene from Tiger Man:

Considering his filmography up till now, one wonders how he got handed this project: a "serious" adaptation of James M. Cain's noir novel meant as a star vehicle to kick-start Pia Zadora's career. It was her first film since Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (trailer / full film) in 1964. Butterfly features a slumming Orson Wells and other has-beens who owed car payments. Cool Cinema Trash says: "Honest and hard-working Jess Tyler (Stacy Keach) arrives home one blistering afternoon to find a pouty sexpot (Pia Zadora) sitting on the front porch of his modest desert shack. 'Something you want?' he asks. 'How can I tell, till I know what you got?' And we're off and running on the sexed-up rollercoaster ride that is Butterfly (1983), the neo-noir melodrama based on the James M. Cain novel. Score by the great Ennio Morricone.

A Time to Die
Based on Mario Puzo's novel Six Graves to Munich, A Time to Die was filmed in 1979 and not released until 1982; Rex Harrison's last film. Plot synopsis by John Sacksteder from imdb: "A World War II vet sets out in 1948 to avenge the death of his wife at the hands of Nazis. His targets are four Germans, a Sicilian, and a Hungarian who committed the atrocities. He is aided by a CIA operative, who has another agenda. One of the targeted men is being groomed by the US to become the West German chancellor and is to be protected. Along the way, a third person joins the team."

Trailer provided by Video Detective

Also known as Nevada Heat. M. Riklis, the producer of this film, was Pia Zadora's husband at the time; this and the earlier Butterfly were his loving attempts to help Pia get a career. Lots of skin in this one. Starring Pia, Telly Savalas and Desi Arnaz Jr. — what a cast! — Cinema Gonzo says: "[I]t's mostly a remake of Matt Cimber's earlier blaxploitation film Lady Cocoa (1975)." Includes a lesbian kiss from failed-actress Connie Hair, now a political PR flack for several conservative organizations. In a 1984 interview of Pia Zadora by Frank Sanello, Pia states "I threatened to commit suicide if Fake Out was released."
Opening credits and title song:

"No man will ever penetrate my body, with sword or himself."
Hundra (Laurene Landon)
The first of two films Cimber made with Laurene Landon (measurements: 36.5-21-37), the film actually runs a full 14 minutes before the credits roll. Tells the tale of the only survivor of an Amazon tribe that gets slaughtered, Hundra the Invincible, who sets out to revenge the death of her sisters. If Conan the Barbarian (1982 / trailer) made a bunch of money, a female Conan should, too, or? Same story, more or less, but with babe boobs instead of man tits, Hundra is considered one of the more entertaining Conan rip-offs to follow Arnold's popular film.
Not the original trailer:

Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold
Cimber retired from filmmaking for more than two decades after this, uh, masterpiece, once again starring the pulchritude of Laurene Landon as the titular Yellow Hair. According to the great film blog Video Junkie, Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold is "an odd combination of western and Indiana Jones." Whatever its ingredients, in the end it is pure exploitation trash.

Matt Cimber returns to filmmaking with a serious (!) film. According to annonymous (sic) at imdb, Miriam is a "Heart-wrenching story of a woman who takes another's identity to survive the most horrible time of the 20th Century. Miriam is the triumphant story of one woman's survival and success, which takes place in Lithuania over a period of forty years, from the German occupation of World War II through the Soviet era, and is based upon the true story of Miriam Shafer." The film, which made no waves, is the debut film of Ariana Savalas, the daughter of the late, great television and movie star, and Hollywood legend, Telly Savalas.
Couldn't find any trailer or excerpt, so instead, here's Telly Savalas "singing" the classic easy listening song If:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Celebrity: Whatever Became Of....?

Whatever Became Of....? (by Richard Lamparski, Bantam, 1980)
A book bought because of its title, which, in full, reads From Playtex 18 Hour, Jane Russell Presents Whatever Became Of...?
The best parts of the book are Russell’s introduction, which manages to plug Playtex four times in what would be less than a page of text if it were without photos, and the back cover, an advertisement featuring three truly ugly Playtex undergarments. (Did our mothers really wear that stuff? No wonder our fathers all divorced them.) As for the 50 entries that are included in this volume of Lamparski’s series of Whatever Became Of....?, they are as superficial, fawning, badly written, uninformatively dull and aggravating as to be expected from fluff pieces.
While Lamparski has an interesting selection of not-so-forgotten, forgotten and obscure name, as 100 years of cinema should allow one to have, the entries read as if written by and for mentally deficient foreigners and, having the depth of a mud puddle in the dessert, offer little real information. Traumas, scandals, changes major and small are all given one or less sentence, and one gets the feeling that either Lamparski is either too star struck to be able to write a serious, informative update about his subjects or he is too disinterested in his subjects to spend the time required to do any given entry justice. While an informative book doesn't necessarily have to dish all the dirt, it shouldn't do something like give a completely forgotten actor such as Turhan Bey (remember: this book was written years before Babylon 5, so Bey was still a mostly forgotten person) a half-page entry, refer to "the scandal that made him leave Hollywood" and then not explain anything at all about it.
Other people included in this volume, amongst others, include Hedy Lamarr, John Agar, Jane Greer, Bee Freeman, John Derek (Pre-10 [1979 / trailer]), Lash LaRue (anyone have a copy of his porno film Hard on the Trail [1972]? — the poster shown below is not found in the book) and John Barrymore, Jr.
The book is a total waste of paper, especially in this day and age when much more and much better information can be found about the forgotten has-beens on the Net — providing you can even remember their names in the first place — but its title does have the kind of appeal required for the indiscriminate collector of trash books.
Oddly enough, however, though I have searched the web, I can't find out what "the scandal that made [Bey] leave Hollywood" — it must have been a minor one. Anyone out there know what it was?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Misc. New Additions to My Vintage Book Collection Summer 2011

Tales of the Flying Mountains
(Collier Books, 2nd Printing, 1973)
by Poul Anderson
Cover artist: Uncredited — any tips in this regard would be greatly appreciated.
Back cover: "'We, the people of the spaceship ASTRA, in order to accomplish man's first venture beyond the Solar System....'
Brave words, pondered by the Advisory Council of the ASTRA as they hurtle through space, but words judged inadequate to the task they have set themselves—to take the most perilous journey of all, far beyond the Milky Way, to worlds unexplored, perhaps unexplorable. These pioneer spacemen and women have chosen a strange, uncertain future for themselves and their children, which they only begin to understand as they spin the fascinating tales of the space age past—of repression, rebellion, and anarchy—of man's fate—to accept the challenge of the stars or annihilate himself on earth.
Tales of the Flying Mountains, the thrilling story of a speculative world where man is finally forced to think before he acts."
I don't usually by science fiction or short story collections, although this book is both, but the Circe call of the female breast made me part from my euro. Pop Sensation posits that this book's cover is "more proof that everyone in the early 70s was high." The interior copyright of the book reveals that that some of the stories — which are all set in a common future universe were originally published under the pseudonym "Winston P. Sanders" in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact magazine between April 1963 and September 1965. Over at Book Note, they summarize the narrative of the book as: "The council of the first generation ship, going out to colonize elsewhere, is debating what to teach their children about their history. In the course of the discussion, they tell stories of major turning points in their history, which some of them experienced in person and others at least heard first-hand stories from."
The cover seen here to the left of the 1984 reprint (which I do not have) is definitely far less interesting than the trippy original one of the 70s. Guess all that pot in the 70s was good for the imagination...

Down Here
(Essex House, 1969)
Michael Perkins
Cover artist: Uncredited — any tips in this regard would be greatly appreciated.
Back cover: "Blood country. No one who lives in New York's lower East Side can ever forget it. It is one of the great melting pots of the world, a place where violence is as common as the sunrise. It is a battlefield for savage and brutal encounters between gangs ... or people bent on the pursuit of pleasure—any kind, anyway they can get it. Kicks are the way to live; you either get them or give them, no one cares with whom or how. And sex is the greatest kick of all. Michael Perkins has been there, and now he tells how it's done Down Here."
About the author: According to Jay A. Gertzman in his article on Porno Noir, 1968-1974 in Ed Kemp's February 2010 issue of his excellent eFanzine eI48, "Perkins, like Burroughs, uses pornography to make revealing statements about political realities, as did de Sade and Bataille."
At Vintage Sleaze, they were nice enough to reprint the biography appearing on the inside the cover of the Essex House book (#0101) Blue Movie, Perkin's first published novel: "Michael Perkins was born in Michigan (Lansing), and raised in Ohio ("the banks of the Ohio, as a matter of fact — and that has made a difference"), and presently lives in New York City (#4B), with his wife ("who is pregnant and it looks like twins"). After picking up a B.A., he became a caseworker, then a teacher, before devoting full time to his typewriter ("I spend my days in bed writing novels and my nights on Times Square"). At 25, he is a strong figure on the avant-garde literary scene, not only as an author-poet but as the editor of Tompkins Square Press (which recently published Ray Bremser's remarkable "jail diary poem" Angel), and the eminent East Village-based magazine Down Here (responsible, among other things, for the American liberation of the erotic writings of Guillaume Apollinaire). His work has appeared in many of the underground literary reviews (including the New York Times) and he has published two books of poetry, The Blue Woman and Shorter Poems. [...]"
According to the Notre Dame Review website: "Michael Perkins is the author of five collections of poetry, including The Blue Woman (1966), The Persistence of Desire (1977), Praise in the Ears of Clouds (1982) and Gift of Choice (1992). The Secret Record, literary criticism, was published by William Morrow in 1976, and is available in paperback from Rhinoceros. His poems and essays have appeared in Younger Critics of North America, The Nation, Mother Jones, Paper, Choice, Notre Dame Review, The World, Sagetrieb, Talisman, and American Book Review as well as in numerous other magazines and anthologies here and in Europe. He has been editorial director of magazines and publishing companies, including Croton Press, Ltd., Tompkins Square Press, Down Here and Ulster Arts Magazines. He has given over a hundred public readings in New York, San Francisco and Oxford, England. A graduate of Ohio University (Athens) in philosophy and English literature, he studied at City College of New York and The New School. He is a member of The Author's Guild, the National Book Critics Circle, and Poets and Writers."
In any event, although this book here about the East Village shares the same title as the literary magazine he once published while living in the East Village, the Essex House publication appears to be an original text of his own and not a compilation of texts from the long-defunct magazine.
The image of the original literary magazine seen above was found in Jay A. Gertzman's article Porno Noir, 1968-1974 in Ed Kemp's February 2010 issue of his eFanzine eI48, where it had the following caption: "This magazine was issued from the Tompkins Square bookshop in 1966. It was edited by Michael Perkins and contains poems by him, Roy Bremser, and Jack Micheline, among others. The drawing is by Erin Matson. The 'banned novel' excerpted by Appollinaire [sic] is The Debauched Hospodar."

The Memoirs of Josephine Mutzenbacher
(Brandon House, 5th Printing, August 1968)
Attributed to Felix Salten, the author of Bambi.
Cover art: An un-credited detail of a work by Félicien Rops.
Back cover: "The classic confessions of a woman of pleasure. In Vienna of the 19th century, prostitution was a legitimate profession sanctioned by law—registered streetwalkers were thus able to play their trade while their neighbors starved in the ghettos around of course they were social outcasts. But a few of these woman were able to rise above the stigma of condemnation to become rich and even famous–most notably a young peasant girl: Josephine Mutzenbacher."
Originally published in 1906 in Vienna, Austria, the translator credited for the Brandon House edition, Rudolf Schleifer, is a pseudonym for "Hilary E. Holt", the Ph.D. who also wrote the introduction. "Hilary E. Holt, Ph.D." wrote a lot of forwards and afterwards for such esteemed publishing houses as Brandon and Grove in the 60s and 70s. According to Seattle PI, Holt was an "Austrian transplant to the U.S. raised in the last throes of the Austro-Hungary empire and, according to Kirby,* a former professor living in a small, dumpy apartment in Hollywood and 'a sad old man,' [who] used a copy of the [German language] first edition from his personal collection, avoiding later German-Austrian editions which had been 'improved' upon." (Indeed, Holt's translation for Brandon House is currently considered the standard translation.)
In Holt's introduction, Holt recounts a conversation he himself had in 1930 with Stefan Zweig, "the only mortal who worked up enough courage to ask the alleged ghost-writer" Felix Salten whether he was the author or not. Salten's evasive answer — "If I deny it, you won’t believe me, and if I admit it, you’ll think I am teasing you" — was taken by Zweig as "a badly disguised admission" because Zweig was convinced that "[Salten] would have become very angry at being asked such a question unless he was the author." In any event, Salten is now generally considered the most likely author, thus eclipsing the other main previous literary suspect, Arthur Schnitzler.
Whether or not the tale is simply total fiction or truly a transcription of the memoirs of a woman of pleasure as told to the author is a question which, like that of the true identity of the author of My Secret Life, will always remain contested, but in general the book is referred to as a "novel," which infers what is most commonly believed. (In the book's introduction, however, Holt supplies some supposed history of the real Mutzenbacher, who was "born in 1849, as the third and youngest child of Ferdinand and Marie Mutzenbacher, née Schmidt.")
The Memoirs of Josephine Mutzenbacher is a first-person narrative of a successful 50-year-old legal prostitute of Vienna retelling her sexual past a young girl in Vienna. As such, it has less to do with her career as a courtesan than with her escapades between the ages of 5 and 12 — thus putting the book squarely in the realm of child porno. The novel ends with her entering the business at the age of twelve.
The English language version of the HARDCORE German film of the tale, Die Beichte der Josefine Mutzenbacher, directed by Han Billian in 1978 — entitled Josephine for the English-language dub — can be viewed at Luckily, the film adds a number of years to the age of the heroine, thus making the whole tale much more palatable — if not an enjoyably funny Golden-Age five-finger helper. Be forewarned, as the previous sentence infers, the film (and the website) is X-rated, but part one (44 minutes) can be found here and part 2 (50 minutes) here. (I wouldn't open those links while at work if I were you.)
There was also softcore German film of the tale filmed in 1971 by Kurt Nachmann that got released in English-speaking countries as Naughty Knickers, but it seems to be unavailable at the present in any language.

*Brian Kirby, manager of Brandon House and, eventually, Essex House. Kirby, who once firmly believed that "there's no reason why good literature shouldn't give you a hard-on" (Charles Platt: Loose Canon, 2001, page 29), went on to edit The Los Angeles Free Press before disappearing into the netherworlds of suburban USA.

Some Limericks
(Zebra Books [Grove Press Inc NY] First Printing 1968)
by Norman Douglas
Back cover: "A Black Circle Book now in paperback.
'This book...would shock an Elks Club smoker...but each limerick is subjected to delightful, droll commentary by Mr. Douglas, written straight-faced in the best academic critical style.'
The Washington Star

Norman Douglas was 60 when he first offered this delightful collection — the result of a lifetime of assiduous research — in a privately printed edition. Anthologies of limericks are many, but this one, like a good wine, is rare indeed. It was during the reign of Queen Victoria, according to Douglas, that this fine art achieved its greatest successes, and it is from this era that most of the choices in this volume come, though some from the twenties and an American sampling are also included. As important as the limericks themselves are Douglas's witty, pungent notes which follow each selection."
In the introduction, Norman Douglas writes "I may be abused on the ground that the pieces are coarse, obscene, and so forth. Why, so they are; and whoever suffers from that trying form of degeneracy which is horrified by coarseness had better close the book at once..."
And indeed, for years the book was considered obscene enough to be available only under the counter. It was only after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Fanny Hill [Memoirs v. Massachusetts, 383 U.S. 413 (1966)] that the book, "on the basis of its redeeming social value," was published in readily available editions.
Born in Scotland in 1868, (George) Norman Douglas was a scandal-prone British novelist, travel writer, and essayist, who lived his last years on Capri, where he had originally fled (in his own words) "[...] during the war to avoid persecution for kissing a boy and giving him some cakes and a shilling."
He died in 1952, his last known words recorded as: "Get these fucking nuns away from me."

Example limerick:
There was a young man of Peru
Who was hard up for something to do.

So he took out his carrot
And buggared his parrot,

And sent the results to the Zoo.
Example commentary: "He sent the results to the Zoo – where, it is to be feared, so delicate a hybrid cannot have survived for long. I conjecture the specimen is now in the Museum of the College of Surgeons."

Romance of Lust or Early Experiences
(Zebra Books [Grove Press Inc NY] First Printing 1968)
by Anonymous
Front cover: Photo © 1968 by J. F. Bauret and Psychophot, Paris.
Back cover: "Published in four volumes, issued between 1873 and 1876, The Romance of Lust is the first-person story of Charlie Roberts. Perhaps the most famous hero of the Victorian underground, Charlie begins his unrelenting amorous career at the age of 15, being initiated by a married lady who is visiting his mother's house. He soon seduces his two sisters, and then allows himself to be seduced by his two successive governesses, passing himself off as a virgin. His adventures now begin in earnest, and with almost super-human endurance he goes on to explore his taste for intricate tableaux ensembles, to indulge his penchant for fancy complications, and even to form a secret society. He retires before the age of thirty and the remainder of his days are devoted to accomplishing feats he may have missed in his 'Early Experiences'."
Originally published by the English publisher of erotic literature William Lazenby, the Grove edition here was first uncensored modern edition of the book, which now enjoys a variety of available editions. The tale — which in parts reminds one of Guillaume Apollinaire's absurdly comic erotic novel Memoirs of a Young Rakehell — is a first-person account of the insatiable Charlie Roberts, a well-hung lad of great endurance and continual erections, as he experiments with and enjoys the widest variety of sexual activities, including incest, orgies, masturbation, lesbianism, flagellation, fellatio, cunnilingus, gay sex, anal sex and double penetration. He was an active man, to say the least.
Authorship of the book is unknown, although both William Simpson Potter and Edward Sellon have been suspected; of the two men of letters, only Sellon is known to have authored other erotic works.

Back Home at the O.R.G.Y.
(Berkley, February 1968)
Ted Mark (copyright Ted Gottfried)
Cover art: Unknown — any hints here would be appreciated.
Back cover: "Steve Victor and the time machine. It all started in a small Tibetan village. In studying the customs of these little-known people, Steve Victor met with the local Lolita, Miss Ti Nah Baapuh, and proceeded to break several Lamaist taboos regarding the art of love.
He might have been content to continue his researches with this uninhibited sexual dynamo, if it hadn't been for Papa Baapuh's time machine. Once inside it, Steve Victor unbelievably found himself catapulted into the lap of the Queen of Sheba in ancient Ethiopia. And a very obliging lap it was. In no time at all he was being propelled from one century to another—now an orgy with the Princess Julia in ancient Rome, now a quivering clinch with Eleanor of Aquitaine during the second Crusade in Damascus.
It was quite a novel way of getting inside history, and Steve Victor, always a willing scholar, decided to let himself go and make the most of it..."
Ted Gottfried — or rather, Theodore Mark Gottfried — was a highly productive author now mostly forgotten both under his real name ("Ted Gottfried") and all his known pen names: Lorayne Ashton, Kathleen Fuller, Benjamin Kyle, Katherine Tobias and Ted Mark. As an author, he reserved his real name for his serious non-fiction texts on serious topics (such as the death penalty, pornography, the Holocaust, etc) for teenagers. The other names, with the exception of the one-shot use of "Benjamin Kyle" for the book Qaddafi, were lent to his more frivolous works — Lorayne Ashton to some Daniela-Steele-type potboilers, Katherine Tobias to his Gothic romances, Kathleen Fuller for his Riverview series (which are often incorrectly credited to Kathleen Fuller, the author of Amish fiction) and Ted Mark for various trashy series and humorous manly lit written between the 1950s and 1970s. A Dutch source also lists "Harry Gregory" as another of his pen names, seemingly only used for one publication entitled Khadafy.
Some of the earliest short stories by "Ted Mark" appeared in magazines such as Dude and Gent, of which he was the editor in 1963, but according to an online bio by 1964 he was a freelance writer. The 1960s definitely saw a lot of Ted Mark books hit the market, including his then-popular spy spoof series featuring Steve Victor from O.R.G.Y (the "Organization for the Rational Guidance of Youth"); Back Home at the O.R.G.Y. seems to be the eighth in the series, which includes such memorable titles as The Real Gone Girls (1966), Dr. Nyet (1966) and Room At The Topless (1967).
Either The Man from O.R.G.Y. or The Real Gone Girls was made into a film in 1970 known as both The Real Gone Girls and The Man from O.R.G.Y.; directed by the British director James Hill — the man behind Born Free (1966 / fan-made trailer) — The Real Gone Girls / The Man from O.R.G.Y. proved to be a commercial and critical flop and thus has remained the only film adaption of a Ted Mark book to date.
Ted Mark (née Theodore Mark Gottfried) was born in the Bronx on 10 October 1928; he died in NYC on 7 March 2004. Obviously a socially and politically informed man, his trashy satirical novels tend to be cram-packed with then-contemporary allusions to political events which are more than difficult for today's politically ignorant and historically uniformed Average Joe like you and me to catch or follow. His sexual euphemisms and jokes are fairly infantile by today's standards, but they can be oddly entertaining in a dorky way. His fictional romps are anything but literature, but in length they also never overstay their welcome and barrel along at a decent speed. This probably explains why his books are becoming cult favorites.

Further Ted Mark books at Mostly Crappy Books:
The Unhatched Egghead (Ted Mark, Lancer Books, 1966)
The Pussycat Transplant (Ted Mark, Berkley Medallion, 1968)

Like the above? Then check out at Mostly Crappy Books:

New Additions to My Sleaze Collection
Sleaze: New Additions to My Collection (Fall 2008)
Sleaze: New Additions to My Collection (Winter 2008-Spring 2009)
Misc. New Additions to My Vintage Book Collection

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fiction: Little Girl Lost

Little Girl Lost
(Richard Aleas, Hard Case Crime, 2004)
New York PI John Blake is shocked to read one morning that Miranda Sugarman, the love of his youth and the babe that took his cherry, was not an eye doctor somewhere in the Midwest as he thought but was instead a newly dead stripper, found with her brains (and face) blown away up on the roof of one of the Big Apple's sleaziest strip joints. Against the advice of Leo, his boss and mentor, Blake begins to look into the murder on his own, and as the bodies begin to pile left and right of him he digs himself ever-deeper into a pit of betrayal, greed and death that will leave him a changed, much-sadder man...
Little Girl Lost is the debut novel of "Richard Aleas" who, under his real name Charles Ardai is no less than the founder of the wonderful Hard Case Crime series to which this novel belongs. Hard Case Crime specializes in paperback editions of good ol' hard-boiled detective fiction, and their love of the Golden and Silver Ages of classic pulp is obvious in the presentation of their books. The books feature fabulously beautiful cover art in the vein of that which once graced the covers of the vintage publications of yesteryear, often produced by the very same artists that did the covers of the pulp and sleaze publications of the past.
The cover of Little Girl Lost, seen here, is by no one less than Robert McGinnis, who is indeed "one of the most famous cover painters in the history of paperback publishing," to use the words of the artist’s bio on the Hard Case Crime website. (For another example of an earlier, vintage cover by McGinnis, take a look at the cover of A Taste for Violence in my March 22nd, 2010, blog entry.) As a result of the great cover art of the Hard Case Crime series, the example shown here being typically fabulous, the books are definite "must-keeps" for anyone whose criteria for collecting paperbacks is the cover art and not content.
In regards to content, the series doesn't do too badly either—even when flawed, as is the case with Little Girl Lost, they are immensely readable.
In an odd way in McGinnis's artwork for the cover reflects the flaws of Little Girl Lost, if in a totally different manner. For the illustration, which is as much of a pleasure to look at as the book is enjoyable to read, McGinnis pulls what we used to call in art school "an Ingres"—but he obviously pulls it on purpose, whereas one is not sure whether Aleas's flaws (which are listed later in this review) are accidental or not.
So, what is "an Ingres"? The term refers to the great French painter Jean Augustus Dominique Ingres, an artist that is a sort of bridge between Neoclassical artists such as Jacques-Louis David and Romantic artists such as Eugène Delacroix. To the average contemporary viewer, when confronted by works of the David and Ingres there is perhaps little apparent differences between the "realism" of the two masters—but there is a huge one. Ingres, unlike David, was very much a tweaker of reality, ready to twist or reform his figures to achieve what he saw as perfection on the canvas. Take a look at the painting directly below, for example, the masterpiece from 1814, La Grande Odalisque. The exotic topic aside, it is indeed true realism, right?
Wrong. Take a look at the length of the extended arm and compare it to the bent arm; look where the breast is located; consider exactly just how long her spine is and the location of where the crack of her butt should be; look at the length of the lower half of the extended leg and compare it to the length of the upper half; follow the line of the bent leg from its knee back to her body and think about where it must connect; look at the size of her head in comparison to the length of her body—the woman is, in every way, distended, tweaked, malformed, unrealistic. And purposely so: Ingres could well have painted her "realistic" had he wanted to, but for him true perfection of the painting was achieved not by one-to-one realism but by tweaking the form to fit the composition, topic, painting as a whole.
And McGinnis's cover for Little Girl Lost does the same thing—just look at all the aspects listed for La Grande Odalisque in the cover art above. His figure is as "deformed" as those of Ingres, and the illustration looks all the better for it.
Richard Aleas, on the other hand, with his thug doorman, beautiful stripper with a heart of gold, ex-cop boss PI with connections, powerful Mafioso thugs, tweaks little from the cannon of hardboiled fiction even as he places them all in a contemporary setting; whether this is due to an intentional and ironic postmodern play upon the standards of the past or simple laziness cannot be discerned from just one book, but were the author not so adroit with language, the cookie-form-cut characters would sink the book.
The novel, which hit the stores in 2004, is nonetheless an admirable debut, and while it is arguable whether it really deserved to be nominated for both an Edgar and Shamus Award, it is unarguably a page-turner, if only because Aleas has a great grasp of verbal flow and grammar and writes in a smooth, comfortable style that is highly readable. But much like how his characters are mostly stereotypes, his plotting less than intricate: the reader easily figures out the twist to come and solves the case half-way through the book, long before the main character, P.I. John Blake. All the more credit to the author's ability with language and writing, then, that the reader still feels the desire to continue reading long past the realization of the obvious twist.
A narratively flawed page turner, Little Girl Lost is a fun read and definitely makes the reader want to come back for more—both to the other books Richard Aleas has since written and the books of the other authors published by Hard Case Crime.
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