I'm begging you, baby. Plus, don't you realize virginity is an insult to mother nature?
We didn't buy William Vaneer's, aka James W. Lampp's 1953 sleazer Sinful Island Vacation because some silly boy was trying to sell it for a hundred dollars, but we're always tempted by books with this premise because we've been on quite a few sinful island vacations. Our most sinful island: Roatán. And you thought we were going to say Santorini or Mallorca. Very sinful also. But we once got stuck on Roatán for a week when Honduras experienced one of its periodic convulsiónes. There's nothing like deadly political unrest to loosen people's inhibitions. We don't know on which island Vaneer's potboiler is set, but the rear cover refers to it as tropical, so it's a good bet it's in the Pacific somewhere. For our next sinful island vacation maybe we'll head out there.
It's getting late, fellas. I really should be in bed with someone by now.
Sim Albert's 1953 Croyden Books novel Confessions of a B-Girl, which features cover art by Lou Marchetti, tells the story of a New Orleans stripper named Peg Christy who wants to get out of the racket before it turns her into a prostitute. She takes in a naive nineteen-year-old who's arrived in town penniless, and when the girl's hot uncle shows up Peg suddenly develops the courage to take a stab at reform and romance. Of course, she sort of forgets to tell uncle hunk she's a nightclub dancer, and that, along with the club owner's homicidal streak and her young roomie's assorted problems, provide the drama in the tale. Sleaze digests generally give you sex, misunderstanding, sex with the wrong guy, heartbreak, sex, and redemption, and Confessions of a B-Girl does basically that, but with less sex, and a dose of surrogate motherhood thrown in. It's no better than average quality for the genre, but we're glad we bought it because we're suckers for novels about burlesque dancers. Marchetti's art, by the way, fits nicely into our collection of bar covers, which you can see here.
Well, I don't care who told you the pond is safe. I'm telling you it's toxic and you better climb out right now.
Above: a nice cover by Bernard Safran for the Croydon Books sleazer Mountain Sinner, written by Delmar Kingsland and published in 1953. We borrowed this from Sleazy Digest Books, a fun blogspot that has fueled some of our favorite purchases. Kingsland was actually James W. Lampp, who was also Amos Hatter, Ben West, Frederic Spencer, Homer Hatten, Anne Farrington, and William Vaneer, so add another pseudonym to his ledger—possibly his best. Even Lampp was a fake name. His real name, according to his 1994 obituary, was Lumpp. No wonder he hoarded pen names. We've featured him a lot, and the best way see those entries is to click here and scroll. Also, women surprised while skinny dipping is yet another common motif in mid-century paperback art. See more examples here, here, and here.
*sigh* All the gluttony, drunkenness, and lust have been fun, but I need variety. You know—reviling, unholiness. Really esoteric ones.
Above: a cover by Bernard Safran for Sin Cruise, Croydon Books sleaze from the typewriter of Florence Stonebraker, 1954, about a virgin named Maggie Thompson who has a boatborne sexual adventure on a cruise out of New York City. As we've mentioned before, it was pro forma to have the female protagonist of these tales laid by a minimum of two different men, often three, though one time is often by accident (we won't even get into that), and in this case they're Jeff, John, and—atypically—Carlos Cardoza, latin lover. Atypical because we haven't seen anything but WASPs populate the male ranks of these books. It must have been a little risqué for 1954, but we doubt he's the last man standing. We'll see when we read it, which we can't do now because we have more than fifty vintage books waiting. With luck, we'll get to them all.
A funny thing—someone was selling a shit-quality black-and-white postcard of the cover of Sin Cruise for almost as much the book vendor was selling the novel. Just look at that thing. Did they make it by hand? Is that white-out on the top right? Even for a postcard this is really lame, but hey, everybody's gotta hustle. If they can sell this terrible merch, well, that's fine. But they surely will never sell it to us.
And speaking of buying and selling, we've been buying a lot of sleaze digests (you may have noticed our write-ups on some of them over the past couple of years, such as here, here, here, and here), and if you plan to purchase any, note that pricing can be all over the place. We don't recommend spending more than twenty dollars per book. Almost without fail, the digest you see asking fifty or sixty bucks will turn up months later, offered by a different vendor for a pittance. Patience is needed, but it'll be rewarded.
Seriously, though, haven't you ever wondered why I don't replace you with someone who has actual secretarial skills?
First of all, 1953's Love-Hungry Boss is not the same book as 1954's Love-Crazy Millionaire. The confusion could be excused—the titles are close, both came from Croydon Books, and the art on both covers is by Bernard Safran. But Love-Crazy Millionaire was written by Gordon Semple, while Love-Hungry Boss is from the mind and typewriter of Peggy Gaddis. It's about a young hottie named Leona Hale who takes a job at an Atlanta film distribution company and sets her sights on the principle owner Gordon. What she doesn't know is that Gordon, though handsome, charming, and generous, is also a serial womanizer. When Leona meets his wife and three children she breaks off the affair only to find herself smitten with a senior partner. She moves on to greener mattresses, but Gordon won't let her go, so what results is a classic love triangle with the usual trappings—lies, betrayals, misunderstandings, and plenty of the old horizontal slip 'n' slide. These books were racy for their time, but these days the sex is about junior high level, in terms of explicitness. However, the stories can still be involving if competently written, and Gaddis is a decent stylist who makes Love-Hungry Boss an entertaining and speedy read. We have a few more of her books, so we'll revisit her in a little bit.
Since you're standing there, refill me, would ya? And if the chauffeur's union asks, tell them you drove me to drink.
Above: fun Bernard Safran art for Florence Stonebraker's 1954 sleazer Confessions of a Ladies' Chauffeur, for Croydon Books. We have other Stonebrakers, so we passed on this for $65. If it ever goes down we'll buy it and update this post. You have noticed we sometimes do that, right? Like this Stonebraker we updated not long ago.
What can I say? My parents taught me to always demand more.
Above, classic sleaze from Gordon Semple, Man-Crazy Hussy, aka Blonde Temptress, 1954, from Croydon Books. Often these novels seriously examined ’50s stereotypes, particularly those concerning what was appropriate sexual behavior for women, but the authors had little control when their serious stories were given crazy titles and wrapped in titillating covers. We can't tell you whether this novel is an attempt at real literature or if it's pure sleaze, because we aren't going to pay thirty bucks for it. We never go above ten dollars per—including shipping. But we're tempted. The art here is by Bernard Safran. See another example of his work here.
Just ignore my daughter. She gets bitchy whenever she thinks I don't spend enough time with our son.
Bernard Safran is an artist we don't see nearly enough of, considering how much we like his work. He's responsible for the above cover of Love Cult, by William Vaneer for Croydon Books, 1953. The art tells all. A naive young woman rushes into marriage and finds herself trapped in a polygamous commune in the isolated Ozarks. In short order she loses her bodily autonomy, her virginity, and her dignity—but not her desire to escape. An unlikely alliance gives her a chance, but she still needs to outwit her husband somehow, and he's clever, mean, sneaky, and violent. Giving him the slip will take some work. We won't reveal more, except to mention that author William Vaneer is really James W. Lampp under a pseudonym.
Did we ever mention that there's a commune in our town? Actually, its residents live not in town, but on a hill a half mile to the east. They grow stuff up there and sell it in a local shop they own down in the main tourist area. They also run a restaurant. When you go in they try to interest you in their various communities in different countries, and are inordinately smiley and nice. Like in-your-personal-space nice. One time a waitress squeezed into a booth with us to take our lunch order, which was creepy enough that we never went back. But after reading Vaneer's potboiler maybe we'll visit again just to find out what they're smiling about. If you never hear from us again it's because we're having culty sex up on the hill.
*sob* It gets so confusing when the sinful stuff is the most fun.
We love this melodramatic cover for Gordon Semple's Sinner. This was painted by Rudy Nappi, who most aficionados consider one of the best paperback illustrators of the mid-century period. He certainly had one of the longest careers. There are numerous works of his we don't have on this site, but the ones we've uploaded that we like best are here and here.
Moving on to Gordon Semple, he was in reality William Neubauer, and wrote such sleaze novels as Love Crazy Millionaire, Blonde Temptress, and Man-Crazy Hussy. Sinner was originally titled Life of Passion, and was first published back in 1949. The above edition is from Croydon Books and hit newsstands in 1953. You can read the rear cover teaser below. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
The newspaper Pravda is founded by Leon Trotsky, Adolph Joffe, Matvey Skobelev and other Russian exiles living in Vienna. The name means "truth" and the paper serves as an official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party between 1912 and 1991.
1957—Ferlinghetti Wins Obscenity Case
An obscenity trial brought against Lawrence Ferlinghetti, owner of the counterculture City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, reaches its conclusion when Judge Clayton Horn rules that Allen Ginsberg's poetry collection Howl is not obscene.
After a long trial watched by millions of people worldwide, former football star O.J. Simpson is acquitted of the murders of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Simpson subsequently loses a civil suit and is ordered to pay millions in damages.
1919—Wilson Suffers Stroke
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson suffers a massive stroke, leaving him partially paralyzed. He is confined to bed for weeks, but eventually resumes his duties, though his participation is little more than perfunctory. Wilson remains disabled throughout the remainder of his term in office, and the rest of his life.
1968—Massacre in Mexico
Ten days before the opening of the 1968 Summer Olympics
in Mexico City, a peaceful student demonstration ends in the Tlatelolco Massacre. 200 to 300 students are gunned down, and to this day there is no consensus about how or why the shooting began.
1910—Los Angeles Times Bombed
A massive dynamite bomb destroys the Los Angeles Times building in downtown Los Angeles, California, killing 21 people. Police arrest James B. McNamara and his brother John J. McNamara. Though the brothers are represented by the era's most famous lawyer, Clarence Darrow, of Scopes Monkey Trial fame, they eventually plead guilty. James is convicted and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. His brother John is convicted of a separate bombing of the Llewellyn Iron Works and also sent to prison.
1975—Ali Defeats Frazier in Manila
In the Philippines, an epic heavyweight boxing match known as the Thrilla in Manila takes place between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. It is the third, final and most brutal match between the two, and Ali wins by TKO in the fourteenth round.
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